Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Wolves at the Gate", Part III
Script: Drew Goddard, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richards Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy, Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Cover By: Georges Jeanty, Dexter Vines & Michelle Madsen (and take a good look at it: you can see the Dark Horse logo, Mutant Enemy's mascot, Godzilla - appropriate with Giant Dawn rampaging, and of course - Giant Dawn tearing up downtown Tokyo, a call out to Godzilla's rampages)
Page 01: We open on a panel of a girl's face with staring eyes. She has blood on her face. There are voices off screen asking what something says.
Commentary: This is a beautiful panel, despite the grue of it. It should be easy to guess this is Aiko.
Page 02: The vampires have left Aiko hanging on the side of a building. Underneath, in her blood, is written a welcome for Buffy.
Page 03: Buffy returns to the Tokyo compound with Aiko's body wrapped. She carries the body herself as the Tokyo Slayers respond to the death of one of them.
Commentary: This is so well done, that even without dialog, it is a poignant scene - very cinematic in its composition.
Page 04: Following Aiko being returned to her base, Buffy goes off to brood alone. Willow tries to be supportive.
Page 05: Buffy tells her they need a way to grab one of the vampires - a trick since they can turn into mist. It's at this point that Dracula, Renee and Xander arrive at the compound. Dracula has the enchantment to use.
Commentary: He looks very nice in his suit and top hat. I do believe this is yet another visual reference to Gary Oldman's Dracula....
Page 06: Though Dracula gives them the answer to their dilemma, he does so while being imperious, insulting and insensitive.
Page 07: At the HQ of Evil, the vampire lead mentions that Buffy's team has arrived. He wants everyone to step up patrols to be ready for their inevitable attack. He also asks if the robotics division is set to go. Buffy isn't the only one who's gotten serious funding - these vampires are in the Mr. Trick mode, but are also corporate in scope. (Insert your own corporations as vampires joke here)
Page 08: Later that night, we see Renee decked out in the Catholic School Girl look. She runs up to a Japanese hunk, claiming to be lost, emphasizing the 'ugly American' aspect by complaining that all of the signs are in Japanese. He chivalously puts his jacket around her shoulders and claims to know where she's supposed to go. He offers to escort her through the park.
Page 09: We're unsurprised to find it is a vampire. We're equally unsurprised when Slayers jump down out of the trees and surround him.
Willow uses a spell and wand deal to entrap him, while neutralizing his misting abilities.
Page 10: Buffy uses gasoline to get the vampire to agree to tell them what he knows. She finds out that Lead Vampire (Toru is the name) wants to strip the Slayers of their supernatural abilities.
Page 11: Willow finds out how this will occur. Further, they find out that the vampires are very close to being ready. The vampire promises that he's told everything he knows. He tells them he's cooperated, so they have to let him go free, now.
But Buffy points out she didn't agree to that (and she didn't - he started to spill the beans immediately without negotiating). She flicks a lighter and throws it into the mystic cage, burning the vampire to ashes.
Commentary: The only one that even gives this action a second look is Xander. I'm not sure if he's disturbed or not. You wouldn't expect him to be, except this action gives a very dark undertone to Buffy - is he thinking of when she decided to go after Faith? Is he wondering if she might not have been a bit vicious right then? Or is he just making sure the vampire dusts completely - or taking satisfaction? We can't tell for sure. I'm a bit disturbed by the callousness that Buffy displays here - but since I also had her destroy a helpless vampire via fire in spanderverse, I can hardly complain. There's an extra kick to this scene though because of the visuals... and her "This is war."
Page 12: Back in the compound, Buffy tries to order Satsu to stay with a contigent to guard the home base Slayers. She's worried they're sitting ducks with their shock and sorrow over Aiko's death....
Page 13: I say try, because Satsu tells her to screw off. She tells her she'll see her on the battlefield and calls her ma'am. Buffy tells herself she can't believe that she finds Satsu calling her "ma'am" sexy.
Page 14: In the compound, Xander tries to convince Renee to count the assault on the vampires as their first date, so that the initial awkwardness of the first date will be passed when they go on their next 'real' date.
Page 15: Renee is slightly incredulous that Xan wants her to tell everyone that their first official date involved dressing her up as a schoolgirl, used her as bait, lit a vampire on fire, joined several hundred other girls to go into battle and brought Dracula along....
Funnily, Dracula mutters, "I would never go on a date with the two of you. Even if you begged. So don't even bother asking."
It just adds to the slash-undertones between he and Xander. And reflects his basic loneliness as seen at the beginning of last issue, too.
Page 16: But, in order to alleviate any awkward feelings on their next date, she grabs his face and kisses him deeply now.
Dracula looks jealous and annoyed.
Page 17: The Slayers, Dracula, Xander and even Andrew gather outside the vampire HQ. The recon they've done indicates their both outnumbered and due to the vampire's new powers - out gunned.
Page 18: Buffy decides that destroying them right now isn't the priority. She wants a distraction so they can retrieve the Scythe before it can be used to de-power them all. Willow has an answer for that....
Page 19: She teleports Giant Dawn into their midst and has them go on the attack!
Page 20: Dawn gives out a hardy roar and starts tearing at the vampire's building, distracting the guarding vampires from the HQ back door.
Commentary: And also? Godzilla shout out here as we see the "Japanese fleeing from Kaiju" scene so familiar to Kaiju Eiga fans... like me.
Page 21: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Dracula and a small contingent of Slayers (including Leah, Satsu and Renee) make it to the penthouse suite. A little too late, Willow sense something is wrong, just as Buffy's hand reaches through Toru holding the Scythe.
Buffy (having discovered Toru is a hologram) yells that they're in a -- but it's cut off by Xander being splashed with blood!
Renee, having gotten involved with Xander (sort of), is impaled through the back by the Slayer Scythe by the real Toru. At the same time he tells Buffy he believes the word she was looking for was 'trap'....
Commentary: Xander just can't catch a break in the romance department, now can he? I like this page's artwork, but I wish Toru had just been silent.
The Good: I love that first page with Aiko.
I also love the poigancy of Buffy carrying her back silently into the compound with the other's expressions of shock.
I love the interaction between Xander and Renee and Dracula's obvious desire to be included (and the slashy tones of Drac toward Xan).
I like Dawn being used in the fight.
I like the artwork of Renee's shocked expression with her dangling off the ground, impaled on the Scythe.
The Bad: Nothing jumps out as bad in the issue.
Other Thoughts: I found Buffy's destruction of the captured vampire dark and disturbing. I also didn't like Satsu being so blunt in her refusal to follow Buffy's orders, though I think it was wholly appropriate to the moment. I'm annoyed that Renee is killed because we already had Xander lose his love and because it was so expected (maybe not that it would happen here, but that she'd end up dead I feared way back in Issue 1). I also wish Toru hadn't thrown out that obvious and typical line about Buffy looking to say 'trap'... it was too stereotypical and expected as well.
The Score: I liked this issue, but mostly for the character interactions with Xan and Renee. This one suffered the "middle issue of arc" syndrome more heavily than last issue, but it was still well written and plotted. And, there were very strong, individual images on the page that I really appreciated.
3.50 out of 5.
Go to LAST ISSUE OF ARC review instead....