Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"A Beautiful Sunset"
Script: Joss Whedon, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy
Cover by: Jon Foster
Page 01: "Once upon a time, I did something good."
We see a young girl, filled with confidence lining up to hit a baseball (BTVS: Chosen).
Page 02: "I didn't do it alone, of course -- but that's the point. I found a way to share my power. Girls all over the world were given power -- not just strength, though that does come in handy -- but purpose. Meaning. Connection.
"Saving the world means keeping the status quo. But apocalypses come because the world is trying to change. It has to. That either means chaos, and the morons that chaos inevitably employs, or it means moving forward. To something better. And I did that."
We see flashbacks to Willow's laying of hands upon the glowing Scythe. We see girls receiving their power-ups (I believe Rona is one of them, the other may be Vi), including Satsu. We see a flashback of Buffy fighting Caleb during the 'moron' shot. We see Buffy leading the Slayers through a work out, all of them with a glow.
Page 03: "Yay me."
But the change that Buffy ushered in wasn't all good. She is reviewing a security tape on which are four Slayers (but dialog indicates another that isn't seen). The leader of these Slayers is the pink mohawked Slayer from Andrew's team, Simone.
Xander updates Buffy on the rogues - Buffy is both unhappy with this turn of events, and with the fact these Slayers are sporting automatic weapons.
Commentary: We knew from earlier issues that Simone would be a problem because of her insistence to Andrew that they should be carrying guns. He didn't have a serious answer for her on why Slayers don't pack heat (except Buffy's team did, though they were energy weapons designed specifically to punch through forcefields).
Page 04: Xander opines to Buffy that the Wiccan contingent of Andrew's was able to wipe the guard's memories of their attackers, but he's worried about it getting out that Slayers are out there acting like criminals. It'll bring even more problems for the rest of them. He wants arrange a strike force to go after Simone and her band and bring them down.
Buffy points out what Willow shared with her last issue, specifically that she started this by playing jewel theif to fund their operations. Xan wonders if that is the reason that Willow has left again, but disturbingly, he appears to have known how their operations were being funded and doesn't appear to have any objections.
Commentary: Which not only damages my opinion of Buffy, but now of Xander as well. Joss is tainting my beloved characters in ways that their past mistakes didn't and I'm really worried how I can enjoy this series if our good guys lose how to be good guys....
I'm really bothered by this turn of events, but at least it appears that Buffy is second guessing her actions now that it has led to unintended consequences.
Page 05: Buffy and Xander discuss the complications of Buffy and Willow's relationship (think the revelations about Tara and Willow's feeling toward Kennedy being too closely involved in Buffy's business), but doesn't get into specifics. To cheer her up, Xan mentions that they've located a vampire nest that needs taking out the following day. He suggests she can handle it with a partner, but it shouldn't require a squad.
She tells him she'll take Satsu, that they need to have a talk. Xan wonders if there is a problem he needs to know of, but she tells him it's just more complicated, girl stuff.
Page 06/07: Xander leads Buffy to the lobby, where he's arranged a giant party for the Slayers to allow them to blow off some steam. Buffy tells him it was a good plan.
Page 08: Xander completes a thought he started on the prior page, telling Buffy that she spends too much time alone.
Commentary: Which, I believe actually recalls a point I made during the review of a prior issue - that Buffy is still struggling with her impulse to cut herself off from those around her. We've seen this at least since season 5, but if you looked hard enough, you could probably point out examples in S3 and 4 also. It seems that everytime she finds her way out of her isolation with one person or group (her sister, her friends, her fellow potential Slayers) she picks a new group to cut off from her (her fellow Slayers, the humanity she is ostensibly protecting). Xander appears to have also recognized that she's falling into this old pattern again.
Meanwhile, despite Xan telling her that she doesn't need to head out early because of the party going on, Buffy has grabbed Satsu and gone out on the hunt for the next instead of staying to have fun.
Page 09: Satsu has fallen face first into the mud, due to Scotland being slippery. Buffy banters with her a bit, but also shares some truths with her. She tells her that she considers her one of her strongest fighters. Buffy also tells Satsu that she sees her as a possible replacement for her one day, unless she ends up dead by not taking things more seriously.
She tells her she shouldn't ever forget that she's always in danger - like right now - even though she is with Buffy. When Satsu asks why she'd be in danger at that moment....
Page 10: Buffy tells Satsu it's because she's in love with Buffy - at the same time she kicks her with Slayer strength into the vampires they're there to slay. Satsu is shocked at being confronted with her feelings like that and blames the stupid choice of wearing flavored lip gloss.
As the two Slayers fight with the vampires, Satsu worries that Buffy is going to kick her out for being lesbian and being in love with her.
Page 11: Buffy tells her she's completely missing the point, which is that although it's the sweetest thing ever, love is dangerous - it can hurt badly (see Angel and Riley).
Commentary: Very cool of Buffy to be so fine with the fact that a girl is in love with her (and we know from Satsu's POV this isn't some hero-worshipper crush, because she couldn't have broken Amy's spell on Buffy if that is all it is), but is only concerned with her wanting to get close to Buffy, something that always leads to heart-break for the other person involved.
Page 12: Buffy starts to warn Satsu that her being in love with Buffy isn't good for her, even if it does feel good for Buffy herself. She tends to get a bit off track, breaking down into maudlin tears:
"People who love me tend to... oh, die... maybe go to a Hell dimension, or burn up, or they start letting vamps suck on 'em and they leave, they all leave, even my friends, sooner or later everybody realizes there's something wrong... something wrong with me, or around me, or... wow. Did not mean to end up there."
Commentary: Poor Buffy - in addition to still dealing with her inability to let people in, she's still also coping with her inferiority complex about her superiority complex and the fact that she has a lot of self-loathing locked up in there she really needs to let go of once and for all. And, I like the shout outs to her major relationships, even if I'd quibble with the proposition that Spike ever truly loved her (I'll tell you up front here, I've never been a Spuffy fan).
In the meanwhile, Satsu and Buffy easily destroy the vamp-nest as the sun rises.
Page 13: Without warning, Buffy suddenly goes flying through a cement sarcophagous, landing painfully on her back with a nose bloodied....
"The Chosen One. Always in pain... and always complaining. Just like a girl."
Satsu tries to respond, but her katana is snapped by Twilight's wrist and she's gets her face bloodied next and punted away into the side of a crypt where she continues to lie either stunned or dead.
Commentary: More clues can be extrapolated here as well. One, Twilight speaks as if he/she personally knows Buffy and he definitely has super powers. This would seem to put paid to Riley as Twilight (though not necessarily, due to magic and technology). Added to Twilight's previous utterances, it seems nearly conclusive that this is someone that was in Buffy's personal circle previously and it isn't Warren. By now (03/03/10) there are spoilers out there telling us who Twilight is, but I've avoided them so please don't share - right now, I'll only continue to mention my worry that this is going to turn out to be a former friend - I also wonder if Twilight's identity is directly related to the deepest betrayal that Buffy and Willow saw in a vision last issue?
Page 14: Buffy tries to swing the scythe into him, but he mentions he knows that move (could this be a resurrected Caleb? Especially with that 'like a girl' comment) and blocks her. He grabs her and flies up into the dawn sky. He tells her that she can't fight him.
Page 15: Buffy's calls him an ass-clown and also that she'll probably fight him anyway. He mentions her lack of appreciating flying that he observed when she was traveling with the witch, but she tells him she gets used to things fast as she performs a fancy flip, to get onto his back.
"Very well, then... let's ride," he says, taking off with her trying to use the scythe as a garrote (he's too strong and holds the blade at bay).
Page 16: He flies her through a wooden water tank and smashes into a church steeple to force her to let go.
Page 17: Twilight tears the steeple off of the church and threatens her with impalement. She tells him to go ahead and church her, there are plenty more Slayers where she came from. He barely misses her.
Page 18: Twilight disengages from the fight, telling Buffy some interesting things - such as the fact that due to her actions, she's caused disaster. He admits to her that he knows she just tried to help, but that the world wasn't meant to contain so many Slayers at once. He tells her that he's trying to avert a disaster that she has set into motion... but how much of this we can accept at face value is a question, as we'll see.
Page 19: Buffy is left to consider Twilight's words, while in voice over, someone complains that he didn't kill her. He counters that she's already been killed in the past to little lasting effect. He informs whoever is complaining that the thing they need to focus on is not killing her, but first to strip her moral certainty from her, which is what he has started.
In the meanwhile, sometime later, Buffy has returned to the cemetary to check on Satsu. She's upset that she has failed Buffy.
We switch to where Twilight is hovering over a collection of demons and the U.S. military representatives (an interesting coalition in itself considering the Initiative program just a few years prior). We're led to believe that Twilight is stripping off his mask as he pontificates over what he's learned about defeating Buffy.
Page 20: Then he complains about an itchy neck as he scratches before sliding his mask back in place. All we can see for sure is that he's white (and I'm assuming male because of the anti-girl talk and his strong chin).
Elsewhere, back at HQ, Satsu and Buffy are both healing from their run in with Twilight.
Page 21: Later still, Buffy is with Xander on a castle wall overlooking the practicing Slayers. They're talking about Twilight and his observations, but Xan plays cheerleader as he usually does. He tells her that what she's done is give girls all over the world a real purpose (as was stated at the beginning of the issue by her). He concedes that right now they're mostly playing clean up of messes, but they're just getting started with changing the world. She tells her what she's really building for all of those girls is a sense of...
Page 22: ...connection. She complains that she hasn't felt the same way as those she's inspiring. She complains about her own lack of connection to the other Slayers, the way she observes their connecting to one another (which is part of my observations about Buffy, so I'm glad to see I'm on the right track with her problems).
Xan wonder if maybe she doesn't get to because of the loneliness of leadership....
The Good: I like the juxtaposition of Buffy's 'I did something good' with Simone's obviously 'not something good', as well as Buffy's recognition of her own responsibility in making using their Slayer gifts for selfish reasons (financing her army ideas) as also wrong.
I like the way that Joss handled Satsu and Buffy's relationship here. There will be much more to say next issue about all of this, but here I like the sensitivity displayed in the writing.
I like the humor in the vampire fight scene.
I really like the way Xander is being used as the counter argument to Twilight's "you've messed everything up" argument. Where he is trying to tear her down, Xander keeps building her back up.
The Bad: Xander, alas, takes a hit for me by also not seeming to have any moral problems with Buffy's thievery - what the hell happened to these characters in the year between S7 & S8... how did they suddenly develop this moral blind-spot to their own crimes?
Other Thoughts: I wish we hadn't suddenly dropped the Buffy/Giles conflict here that was so evident during the just completed Faith arc. There could have at least been a throwaway line from Buffy or Xander to the other that Giles has refused to answer their calls or to have them complain that they can't get any information about what Faith's mission for him was... instead, he isn't even mentioned. I'm glad they at least mentioned Willow's absence again and I wish they'd done the same for Giles.
I'm not really liking Twilight's super-powers thing - he's starting to look too comic-book supervillain for me..., this is Buffy not the X-Men, Joss.
The Score: The plot with Twilight thickens and Buffy openly deals with Satsu not-so-hidden attraction. I like that Buffy takes an issue to wrestle with the observations that she's been wound too tightly and isn't connecting to those around her... an ongoing problem with her. There was nothing really earth-shattering throughout the issue, but the fight scenes were fun and Buffy and Xander's dialog with one another was strong. I like the way Buffy handled Satsu and Twilight's mind games. Solid -
3.50 out of 5.