Buffy Season 8
Anywhere But Here
Script: Joss Whedon
Pencils: Cliff Richards, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Dave Stewart, Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy
Cover By: Jo Chen
Foreword: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Over one hundred are working with Buffy and Xander in the highlands of Scotland. Honing their fighting skills and forming powerful squadrons to fight the forces of evil, even the non-mystical military type, these Slayers must prepare for an impending war with humans and a mysterious new big bad, Twilight.
Also, Dawn: still large-ish.
Page 01: Buffy is lying on a very un-Scotland type beach when someone calls her name from off panel.
Page 02: It's Daniel Craig in swim trunks, and he wants to rub suntan oil on Buffy's reddening skin.
Page 03: Naturally, that didn't actually happen. It's part of the ol' "Anywhere But Here" thought-game, to which Willow is unimpressed, telling Buffy that was rather generic.
Buffy explains she's having trouble concentrating as we discover she's riding Willow's back (not a euphamism). The witch is flying Buffy high above the ground.
Page 04: Willow tells her that she's going to lower their altitude as they're getting close to where they're going. In the meanwhile, we cut to Xander telling somebody to open their eyes.
Page 05: It's Dawn. Xander is standing on a giant chest of giant clothes. He's had the on-site Wiccan Squad embiggen her clothing and her favorite necklace.
Xander falls inside the case, being swallowed up in giant clothing.
Page 06: Willow is telling her 'Anywhere But Here' fantasy involving Tina Fey trapped with her in a cabin on a blizzardy mountaintop. Later, they discover a cache of hot cocoa.
Buffy 'innocently' asks, "And, Kennedy?"
Willow clumsily tells her that it's just a fantasy game and no significant others are allowed. Buffy mentions that Buffy hasn't seen her around and was wondering if they're still significant to one another, which Will confirms.
Commentary: The tensions between Kennedy and Willow are an ongoing background plot point. And Willow here particularly looks like Jean Grey.
Page 07: Having arrived where they needed to go, we find out it's the lair of a being who has a constant unstable reality field around them. This explains why Willow mentions never having met the 'minder' of the field, but then knows her name. Will explains to the confused Buffy that she meets her later on....
Page 08: The minder babbles a bit here about a prince that needs to be rescued that follows them. Buffy confirms with Willow that time, logic and stuff 'bends' in the mind because of the unstable field. Willow mildly teases her and Giles.
Buffy mentions that 'minder' sounds like a crappy job that no one would choose, but Will tells her no one chooses to be a minder....
Page 09: ... they get chosen, just like Slayers, obviously. They start down an endless flight of stairs into complete darkness and mention Faith's latest attempt to kill Buffy (but really, Buffy attacked first this time).
Page 10: Back with Xan and Dawn, he freaks out when he realizes he's in frilly territory, thinking 'underwear' but Dawn tells him to chill, it's just a camisole. He slips back down through giant clothes.
Page 11: And he comes across a picture of Dawn and a blond kid... Kenny the Thrisewise.
Back with Buffy and Willow, they're playing another game of 'Anywhere....', with Buffy spinning a fantasy of being at a fancy ball on some sort of mission. She must dance 'obscenely close' with Little Women-Christian Bale while Reign of Fire-Christian Bale sneaks out to saddle up some horses at which time, they'll escape to a waiting hot air balloon.
Willow compliments Buffy on this one, but Buffy changes subjects by mentioning Kennedy again. She tells Willow she likes Kenn, leaving Will nonplussed. Buffy mentions how Will never brings Kenn around and seems cagey about things between them. A giant claw comes out of nowhere before Willow can respond and knocks apart the flight of stairs.
Buffy is relieved by the interruption....
Commentary: Another theme running through this season seems to be those who were once close to Buffy (Willow, Giles, Dawn) drifting away from her.
Page 12: Willow discovers that magic flight won't respond around the elite demon they've come to confront. The demon tells them that they reek of lies, even before they say anything....
Page 13: Buffy tells him that they need his help. She tells them that as a wanderer between worlds, he can tell her where they're heading. She's concerned with the imbalance she sees between their worlds.
He mentions Twilight and how much she fears him... he also tells them what the end goal of Twilight is: to give the Slayers their life's goal, to end the struggle over Hellmouths and to help the humans triumph over demons - he tells them that Twilight's goal is the death of magic.
Commentary: Having just recently read FRAY, because of an upcoming cross-over story, I can now see how this ties into the future. In that future, Fray is the first Slayer born in hundreds of years because the demons and magic don't exist for that time, before suddenly making a comeback. There is much more to the story of course, but I'll be reviewing that seperately as a prelude to "Time of Your Life", the FRAY-crossover arc (issue 16-19).
Page 14: Back with Xander and Dawn, we find out why Dawnie was turned into a giantess - and it isn't because she slept with Kenny. It's actually because she slept with his roommate behind Kenny's back....
Page 15: Tichajt, the demon that Buffy and Will are consulting, tells the women that they're brains could not handle the real, full truth, so they hide behind simplifications and delusions. He tells them to take a look at some truths they've been hiding from one another....
Page 16: Here we see Buffy's benefactor funding the Slayer operations... and like Dawn lied to Will about sleeping with Kenny, Buffy has been lying to her about the money. It hasn't been an anonymous donor, the Slayers have been robbing banks to fund their army, with Buffy leading them!
At first Buffy still lies - telling Willow they couldn't be Slayers because she'd of heard about it, but then we see her leading them and she has to admit that the money came from illicit activities. She tells Willow that it's all insured so it's a victimless crime - she tries to justify it by telling Willow that they found some artwork stolen by the Nazis and returned it to a museum - and then lamely finishes with "It's only money".
But Willow quickly quotes Cindy Lauper - "Money changes everything". Willow points out that this is what her enemies saw as well, that she's put their possessions in danger and that is the first domino leading to a humans vs. Slayer war that the military is beginning. She has started this by acting outside of the law....
Buffy happily points out that a "you bad" thing is being shown now....
Commentary: Wow. How much do I hate this plot development?! Buffy is a bank robber? I am really... I'm flabbergasted. I'm trying to trust Joss here, but he's turned Buffy, flawed but heroic Slayer, into a bank robber. I don't even know what to say to this idea - and this is scripted by Joss? I'm at a loss.
Page 17: In the first part of the page, we see that Dawn hasn't been the only one to cheat: Willow has also more than obviously cheated on Kennedy with some sort of Lamia in exchange for mystical knowledge.
"Wow. Your bad is way better than mine," Buffy states, shocked.
In the meantime, in the second half of the page, Dawn is telling Xander of her folly. Xander guesses that Nick was "something of a bad boy, smoked, had dirty hair, didn't care about what anyone thought of him, never gave Dawnie the time of day - but seemed in so much pain deep down and played in some capacity in a band...."
All of which, Dawn confirms. She calls herself a skank and Satan, but Xan tells her she's only guilty of being a cliche. He tells her Buffy made her mistakes, too, obliquely referencing Parker the Poophead.
Commentary: The strongest thing about this series thus far has been Xander's character and I continue to love his dialog. I love that Dawn is being treated as a grown up (at least by everyone who isn't Buffy) and that Xan is playing the confidant as he has to Buffy herself. And I love his telling Dawn she's guilty of being a cliche, and that's it.
I also like that we get this explanation of why Willow has been odd when it comes to Kennedy - things just clicked into place in that regard.
Page 18: Robin, the minder, has teleported in to check on how Will and Buffy are doing, but they're in a new place and being shown something that surprises Robin and brings a look of sadness to Buffy....
Page 19: "What happened to me here?" Buffy asks Robin. She answers, "Betrayal. The closest, the most unexpected." Buffy tries to find out who will be the betrayer, but Robin informs them that they're about to cause a disruption and she can't be there during it and teleports out, leaving Buffy to confront Willow and asking her if she'll be the one.
Commentary: This sends chills down my spine, but in a bad way. First we have Buffy as thief. Now we have Buffy lying, crying and injured - and betrayed by someone closest to her. There's only a short list of "closest" that could betray her, and it makes me wonder if that is who Twilight is (keep in mind I religiously avoid spoilers): Giles? Willow? Xander? Dawn? Faith? Angel? Riley? Spike?
I don't want it to be any of them - especially Riley, as that seems far too easy - and is like cliche evil!Riley fanfic.
Page 20: Willow tells Buffy she won't betray her, but adds "any more than I already have" and we see her and Kennedy arguing about what Buffy has mentioned. That Willow has purposely kept Kenn uninvolved with Buffy's team. She also mentions Willow's six-month absense, which she hasn't even complained about (presumably when Willow was getting naked with the Lamia).
Page 21: Willow admits to Buffy that she has kept Kennedy away from her, just like she said. With flashing between the argument with Kennedy and Will's confession to Buffy - Willow admits that she never considered another option after Buffy died (BTVS: The Gift). Here, Willow makes a direct cause & effect between bringing Buffy back from the grave (BTVS: Bargaining) and Tara's being put in the path of Warren's incredible shot (BTVS: Seeing Red).
She tells Kennedy she can't do that again... she won't place Buffy over the woman she loves, so she keeps them in seperate places so she'll never be confronted with that choice.
Commentary: I'm glad this subject has been broached, because I've often wondered if Tara being shot couldn't have been a consequence of violating the Wiccan rede against resurrecting the dead. It seemed like there should be more consequences than Buffy's personal depression or that semi-solid being coming back with her. Spike angrily tells Anya and Xander that there are consequences to magic, but we never really saw any. Tara's shooting would be one hell of a consequence for one hell of a violation of natural law, however. In addition, it forces sense on a nonsensical scene (Warren's angle of shot was so impossible, only violating the laws of physics could have allowed that bullet to reach Tara's back). I really like this scene both for these reasons, but also just for the way it brings Will and Kenn closer, while placing more distance between Buffy and Willow... it's a nicely done scene that is easy to imagine being acted by Aly and Sarah.
Page 22: As Willow and Buffy stand seperated and backs to each other, Tichajt brags that they have too many faces and he knows them all. He tells them that he welcomes the coming war and will expose all of their weaknesses to his brethren.
Buffy gives him a look and says, "Hail Mary". Which the demon scoffs at, until Buffy rushes him unexpectedly.
Page 23: As Buffy springs off of a wall, Willow puts a magic blade of energy into her clenched fists and the Slayer cuts the demon in half. Willow warns Buffy that the magic is about to....
Page 24: There is a huge explosion, blowing the mystic cottage apart. They're blown free.
Page 25: The minder is thanked for containing the blast, so that Willow and Buffy weren't incinerated. They apologize for causing such a disruption but the minder isn't all that upset about it.
Buffy and Willow walk away, both of them quite far apart, shoulders hunched against what they've learned about one another in the otherspace....
The Good: The tie in to Fray's story is cool. And, I like the whole story of this one.
Finding out, finally, why Dawn is giant is a plus and her interactions with Xander and wonderful.
The parallels between Willow's mystic affair and Dawn's mundane one were nicely written. I like that none of the characters get to be perfect.
I loved Willow's secret regarding keeping Kenn away from Buffy and why - that was some emotionally good stuff.
The Bad: Buffy the Bank Robber - other than not liking her becoming a villain, I'm also not buying that she'd go that far in organizing the Slayers. I'd see Willow as being far more likely to teleport some money to the Slayer contigent than seeing Buffy doing the thievery - and I loathe how it is portrayed with Buffy holding that hunk of diamond with this wicked grin on her face. At the same time though, I do like how it's her actions that have given the military a legitimate beef with ending her army (I mean in addition to Sunnydale's implosion, which we know wasn't her fault, exactly) - but the callous disregard for other's that this action shows - it just sits very, very wrong with me.
Other Thoughts: I'm also very concerned about this betrayal talk. What worries me is their destroying a character by some sort of 'out of character' betrayal. I'm willing to wait to see who, how and why before I commit to trashing the idea. Especially since with Buffy robbing people, it would make sense if someone's "betrayal" was walking away from her at the wrong time or something, rather than actually physically attacking her.... We'll have to see how this plot point works out.
Score: We get some answers (Dawn, Kenn's absense, the gang getting Twilight's goals) and new mysteries (the upcoming betrayal, the tie in with how exactly this will fit into Fray's continuity, who the betrayer is and how and why). I like most of the issue with the exception of turning Buffy into a robber, but regardless this is well written: 3.25 out of 5.