Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Script: Joss Whedon, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Lettering: Richards Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: The Incomparable Jo Chen
Blurb: Following a poorly executed retreat into the Himalayan Mountains, Buffy must regroup after sending powerless Slayers into the battlefield to fight against Twilight's military goons and some blood thirsty goddesses. The earth is littered with the bodies of Slayers, werewolves, and humans alike. But in the midst of it all a romance blossoms, bonds are tested, and Buffy takes to the skies.
A Word From Me: I know that my next Buffy S8 review was supposed to be Riley's one-shot. I didn't remember that Twilight's identity is actually spoiled in that story, since it was released after or during the Twilight arc, after Buffy had already found out the secret. I can't really discuss a certain orbiting character associated with Twilight until his identity is known, so I've decided to hold off on that review until after the S8 wrap up with BTVS issue 40.
Oh, and also, I am really enjoying S9 so much more and the Angel & Faith series has me happy, too. Because, I know you guys were really concerned about that.
Page 01: We open on a view of sunset.
Page 02: Joining Buffy, we see her enjoying her sudden and newfound abilities to fly.
Page 03: Buffy mentions in thought-voice-over that she's stronger than ever, but she's also worried. Worried enough to have hidden this new development from her friends... those that are left anyway....
Commentary: This is just one of the many, many mis-steps in S8, in my opinion. The thing about Buffy is how often she was placed at risk. She could be, and was, hurt. But now, they're giving her Superman powers and it just throws the entire character out of whack. Along with the bank robbery, her dismal leadership skills, Dawn's subplot that went nowhere and the coming Twilight review and the point of his plans... it's like everybody lost who these characters essentially were in the hiatus between when the show went off the air and where this series has picked up. And not just the characters, but the nature of the Buffy Storytelling feeling. I can still recognize our characters through their dialog, but this mythically huge arc just doesn't feel Buffy-ish. It feels like something that would be in Superman, or the X-Men. Buffy has always been more intimate, even when big things were happening and it feels like much of that intimacy between us and our characters has been misplaced... and it isn't the medium, because I've read plenty of comic books. I have boxes full of 'em, and I can get into them just as closely as I can tv characters. But not in this case... there is just a feeling of, I don't know -- wrongness -- about the tone of this title, as compared to the tone of the show we loved.
Page 04: At the temple that Oz and his wife knicknamed Bay call home, he's walking with Willow. She's very guilt-stricken at what they've brought onto his doorstep, but he's Oz, so he's cool about it all.
Willow compliments him on always knowing what to say. She wonders aloud if he knows how she can get her magic back real quick. After all, they have three released Earth goddesses running around out there.
She gets struck my a mighty magical KROOM!
Commentary: Artwise, page 04 & 05 are really lovely. But (you knew there'd be a but), I had now idea if this was Oz or Andrew until I read the dialog. They look too similarly drawn in medium distance and the coloring doesn't always show their hair coloring so you know at a glance, as here. Also, I was a bit confused, because I thought everyone had been overrun and captured, but apparently only a few of our team was....
Page 05: Willow in engulfed in a magical field and jokes with Oz, but he's less sanguine about it. She tells him that she can sense that is was caused by some sort of cataclysmic mystical event. When he asks her if she knows what happened, she says no... it hasn't happened, yet.
Commentary: Willow's regaining her full mystical might feels MUCH too convenient, to me. I'm also really confused about whether this is directly referencing Buffy's killing Dark Willow in the FRAY timeline, what is going to be happening in the Twilight arc, or some sort of event we don't know about yet.
I want to say that this may have something to do with how Dark Willow will have her powers in a world in which the magic had died in Fray's timeline because otherwise this still doesn't make sense to me. I could buy that Dark Willow needed Buffy to kill her [Why her, specifically? Maybe there was an emotional component to the spell... like some werewolf myths, maybe Dark Will needed to be killed by somebody who loved her in order to send her magic back through time to her younger self. She may have done this as a way to prevent herself from becoming Dark again, in the first place. But, this seems like a pretty random time and place for it to occur without some definite explanation].
If it is tied to the future event with Twilight, it makes even less sense for this to occur here, but it's difficult to explain without spoilage of future events in the arc.
I think I prefer to see this as something that will happen later, that we haven't seen yet.
Page 06: Dawn and Xander rush out to inform Willow that the surviving Wiccans have keeled over. Willow explains the temporal event has restore their magic. She tells them to see if the others can identify the future cause of this sudden mystic burst, while she goes after the goddesses they released.
Page 07: In the makeshift field hospital, Buffy spends a few minutes with the wounded and drugged Riley Finn before he passes out.
Page 08: Elsewhere, Twilight tells three of our hereos unconscious forms that Buffy will take some time to get over the shock and awe of the losses. He further explicates for us that Buffy hasn't noticed Giles, Faith and Andrew missing yet because of a little confusion spell cast by his own Wiccans (one would assume largely Amy, since she's his heavy mystical hitter).
Page 09: At the temporary Slayer setup, the magic casters are hard at work, but they're having trouble focusing. Xander also is affected.
Page 10: In the meantime, Willow rushes the goddesses alone, and gets punted away with a giant red foot.
Page 11: She thinks to herself there will be no more of this... but gets punted away, again. The goddesses are not going to be impressed with her magic.
Page 12: At the field hospital, a soldier calls out to Buffy and she speaks to him. He starts to fade (metaphorically) as they speak, and ends up dying.
Page 13: Xander bluntly tells her that they'll need the soldier's bed. Buffy says she's tired of seeing and being the cause of all of this death and pain. Xan is more pragmatic that she didn't start this war, but she's not so sure.
He tells her about Willow's sudden power-up, and Buffy asks if she's not more powerful. Xan misunderstands, since he doesn't know about Buffy's new super-abilities and replies that Will hasn't gone dark, but that she's trying to handle the goddess problem.
Page 14: Buffy and Xander talk about Riley and Xan tells her that he always respected him most of all of her boyfriends, he not being the psychotic demon type. She mentions his tough love speech when Riley decided to leave Sunnydale and expresses regret that she was a little too late in realizing she really wanted him to stay.
She next shocks Xander by admitting that she must be a little too late for him, too.
Page 15: Buffy admits she saw he and Dawn, but this isn't really a conversation he wants to have with her... especially with her making wisecracks about it. She asks him, "What about me?"
Page 16: PAGE LOVE QUOTE-A-THON:
Xan (puzzled): Yoooou... have feelings. At me.
Buffy: Would that be good?
Xan (tenderly): That would be great.
Xan (tone shifts to disbelieving): If it was a bunch of years ago and you actually meant it.
Buffy (a bit insulted): You don't know how--
Xander: PUH. LEAZE.
Commentary: Heh-heh. If there is one thing that S8 gets consistently right and all kinds of hugs from me for, it is the handling of Xander. He's become such a backbone of the entire Slayer operation, and at the same time he hasn't lost any of his Xander-ness. He's more mature. He's more organized. But, he's still Buffy's biggest fan, who also isn't afraid to tell her when she's full of crap and why. And, he doesn't use that tone that makes some people hate him in the series when he was still a high school student, so that is a bonus, too.
Page 17: Xander confronts Buffy about not only her sudden feelings for him, now that she's seen him kiss her sister, but also that if this wasn't about Dawn, Buffy would have known that she should keep it to herself.
She feels bad that he's right. The decent thing to do would have been to not tell him that he now had a shot with her.
Page 18: Xander admits to the weirdness of is falling in love with Dawn, knowing her as long as he has and her being younger. Buffy apoligizes through tears that she's such a bad person. He jokes this off as it being part of the Buffy charm.
Page 19: Dawn interrupts and finds out Buffy knows the secret. Buffy assures her that she approves, but Dawn wasn't asking. She tells them that Willow is having problems with containing the goddesses on her own.
Commentary: I also must give it up to the writers for Dawn's portrayal. I really, really like S8 Dawn that expands and builds on S7 Dawn in a way that they couldn't on the show because we were inundated with new characters we didn't know and had to get a sense of. Yes, her story arc still annoys me greatly in how it was so much ado for no gain and was botched by making it about Buffy, still, rather than her own story -- but that is plot problems. Dawn's personality and her dialog is fun.
Page 20: In the mystic room, Willow's giant-head-astral-projecting. Buffy tells her she has a plan, and asks Will to start digging a huge hole as she'll take care of the rest.
There is a mildly amusing riff on Superman's "Up in the sky...!" narration.
Page 21: Buffy, now having to reveal her own secret, takes off into the sky to join Willow. Kenn says she looks kinda hot, but Xander doesn't agree and Dawn is just in gape-face.
Page 22: With her new Superman-powers, Buffy is able to beat the goddesses back into the Earth.
Page 23: Willow seals up her giant hole and tells Buffy that the goddesses should return to dormant. This will allow the Slayer powers to return to them. Buffy asks about her own sudden abilities, but it is a mystery for another time.
Buffy complains that Dawn and Xander are in love.
Willow already knew this and was just wondering if they were going to figure it out.
The Good: The dialog. I love the conversation between Willow and Oz. I also love Dawnie and Xander and Xander/Buffy's conversation.
I'm really so happy, which I'm sure I mentioned, that Riley didn't betray Buffy.
The Bad: Weeelll... I do find the fight against the super-tough goddesses to be really anti-climactic. Couldn't Buffy have had a little bit of a fight on her hands?
I also think the Wiccans and now the Slayers powers being returned a bit too convenient. I hope we get some sort of explanation for the Wiccans' power return.
Other Thoughts: I'm also not loving the Buffy-as-Superman thing, either. The jokey-referencing of his mythos is too obvious and repetitive, and Buffy as invulnerable heroine just makes her so much less Buffy-ish and more generic superhero. I can't call it bad, yet, because we don't have an answer to why and we don't know where it's leading at this point, but I had an uneasy feeling about this development while reading it the first time through.
I'm also not sold on Xander and Dawn's sudden found love. Dawn had a girlish crush on Xander, sure, but I'm not seeing where his sexual attraction is coming from.
The Score: 3.50 out of 5