Season 8, Issue 32
'Chapter 1: Buffy Has F#@$ing Superpowers'
Script: Brad Meltzer, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richard Starkings & Albert Deschesne
Cover: Jo Chen
Blurb: Following a massacre of Slayers, werewolves, and humans alike, Buffy taps into her inner Superman - and reels from the revelation of Dawn and Xander's new relationship. But greater revelations present themselves concerning both those new powers and the elusive Twilight.
My Blurbage: The one thing you need to remember going forward, is that I'm making the assumption that the whole Twilight dealio is being directly caused by cosmic forces... otherwise I could not live with the character assassination that is about to occur. I'm not changing my mind about this and I believe that was the intent, even if it wasn't all that clear. You can accept this premise and enjoy the review, or you cannot. Also, spoiler-zone ahead.
Page 01: We open on someone loading a bullet into a gun chamber, while a second person says it is stupid.
Page 02: Xander and Buffy are the previous two people. Xan is excited and playful with Buffy's new superpowers and she's also thinking it is pretty darned cool.
Commentary: As per last issue, I do not. But, I won't rehash that now. What I do like is Xan carrying a handgun for when its needed and Buffy's consistency in both not liking them around her, and the acknowledgement that she's lost people to them.
Page 03: Buffy outraces Xander's shot bullet and plucks it from the air to return to him. She asks him if it's neat, to which he states 'no'...
Page 04: ... but he does find her next trick pretty cool. Which is to lift an entire train engine over her head. Xan is snapping picks of Super-Buffy, but Dawnie is really getting bothered by what is happening (because Dawn is genre-savvy and realizes this is a Buffy story, meaning that good-times will inevitably end in tragedy).
Page 05: Buffy next tests her super-leaping ability, in keeping with Superman's powers (before flight, all Supes could do was leap huge distances -- this is a riff on the leaping over skyscrapers that he used to do; Also, Xander's line is a direct quote of Lois Lane in Superman the Movie with Christopher Reeve and Margo Kidder).
Commentary: Okay, okay... the references are wearing thin, starting with the covers which are also emulating early Superman covers.
Page 06: While Buffy and Xander continue joking around, Dawn is complaining to Willow about it. She points out that you never get power for free and nobody is taking Buffy's new upgrade seriously.
Commentary: As mentioned in the previous issue's review also, I really like Dawn's characterization in S8. I love how she is aware of the universe she inhabits and is leaning heavily on the 4th wall with her observations about how these things tend to go within that universe.
Dawn points out that even Andrew would take this sudden and unexplained development more seriously than her new boyfriend and her sister. Willow wonders about Andrew not being out there, geeking out.
Commentary: No, Willow - what is odd is that Buffy hasn't noticed Giles missing yet. You'd think she'd be all, "Where's Giles - he needs to see his little Slayer, now!" but, no. Or, you'd think Dawnie would have tried to find Giles to talk to him about her sister's weirdness and then found it doubly odd when she couldn't find Andy either. But, no.
Page 07: Xander continues to tell Buffy to try out new powers, but there are some she's not sharing with Superman. For instance, we're ruling out heat vision and X-ray vision. Her show of telepathic powers is also pretty dubious.
In the meantime, Willow is having Satsu check for Andrew... and she also mentions Faith and Giles, so at least somebody is wondering why they haven't seen them in a while.
Dawn continues arguing with Willow that her sister's sudden upgraded abilities is going to lead to something bad. She specifically mentions the lessons of "The Monkey's Paw" as an example of getting something you've wished for.
Page 08: Xander continues peppering Buffy with ideas of powers she can see if she has, but he's running out of ideas and just naming crap she can already do, like shooting arrows. His references include Wolverine, Spiderman and Joss' inspiration for Buffy -- Kitty Pryde.
Commentary: I'm overdosing on the comic-references... stop! We've already had a mysterious voiceover (Andrew) call Willow "Dark Phoenix".
Page 09: Willow gets informed that no one seems to know where Andy, Faith or Giles are at the moment. At the same time, she tries to tell Dawn that this is probably just the universe's temporary reward to Buffy and she's overreacting.
Meanwhile, Xander is going on to explain how phasing works and Buffy (another inside joke) says she doesn't understand the appeal.
Page 10: As Dawn (being savvy) points out that the more powerful Buffy's powers get, the more powerful the bad guys she has to fight are going to get, Xander and Buffy are being spied upon by Amy (who is also monitoring Willow's magic), Warren and General Whoevercakes.
Willow, meanwhile, is chanting a location spell to find their missing because she knows that none of them were among the dead.
Page 11: Xander makes more comic references: the "SPOON!" is from The Tick, while the signal watch line is from Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen -- I think. I know the signal watch has something to do with Jimmy Olson as a way to signal Superman if he gets into trouble, but I don't know where it was introduced... it may have been in Superman's own title.
Anyway, Willow has figured out that their three companions aren't there. In the meantime, Dawn is steaming because no one will listen to her warnings that this is the start of the badness that was inevitably going to arrive on the heels of her Super-Sis' new powers.
Page 12: Willow reports in to Buffy that Faith, Andrew and Giles are of the missing. In the meantime, Amy, Warren and General CheesyStache are advancing toward the Slayer encampment for some unknown reason. Willow can't locate them, but reports that she believes they were taken outside the perimeter of her 'no teleport' field and may have been transported away already.
Buffy super-runs off to check the surrounding area of any signs of them.
Page 13: Back in basecamp, Willow does a searching spell again, though this one is more general. She just wants to be taken to the Slayer that needs her the most. She believes it will be Faith. Buffy can suddenly perfectly understand Willow's spell language as well, adding another power to her rapidly expanding powers.
Commentary: And it's here that I start to equate Buffy with less like Superman, and more like a goddess. I start wondering if Buffy is being altered to be an avatar for some sort of pagan god's return....
Page 14: Willow has 'ported out, but she doesn't go to Faith. She ends up in Malaysia in a strange apartment. There she finds a Slayer... tortured... possibly dead, or close enough to it.
Commentary: Which is weird, because we don't see Willow actually save her, but how would her spell take her here otherwise. If the Slayer is as dead as implied (it's strongly implied that her body is already in decay) then how does she need Willow? I don't get how her spell is working here, because it was supposed to take her to the Slayer that needs her most, not just uncover clues about what is happening overall. Can somebody explain this, or is it just clumsy plotting?
Page 15: Buffy startles Dawn by vanishing on them, and then arriving again at superspeed. She reports that she's been to all of Giles' safehouses around the globe and can't find him at any of them. Xan asks about telescopic vision to help, but Buffy reports no eye powers in evidence.
Page 16: While Buffy is really starting to worry for her missing ex-Watcher, Willow's next teleport sends her to a cargo container in Miami. She finds more dead Slayers' bodies.
Page 17: In the meantime, Giles, Faith and Andrew come around slowly from their teleport experience. Andrew immediately recognizes the trap they're in as Warren's work.
Commentary: "The Simonson Design" could be another comic book shout out to editor and writer, Louise Simonson who has worked on some Superman titles and the junior Xavier team book, "The New Mutants" which I used to love when I was collecting Marvel oh so many years ago.
Page 18: Faith is feeling pretty mad about being gassy and threatens to punch Andy if he doesn't stop speaking 'nerd' and start explaining where they are. He makes yet another comic book reference: The X-Men/Teen Titan crossover. In that title, the X-Men are captured by Darkseid so he can use their memories of Jean Grey and a super-device to summon the discorporated Dark Phoenix in order to use her power. The Teen Titans get involved and the two teams have to fight against both villains. It ends pretty cooly with Dark Phoenix being returned to the ether, but being really pissed off at being brought back only temporarily, takes Darkseid with her... which doesn't stick, of course.
Andrew points to the huge device in the room with them that looks like the machine Darkseid assembled. Andy informs Faith and Giles that they're in the villain HQ. He also implies here that he may have actually designed the machine, though surely Warren actually built it for Twilight.
Page 19: Back with Willow, she's now transported to Morgan City, Louisiana. There she finds a Slayer rapidly approaching death. The entire squad (I count 14 bodies) has been slaughtered. The temporary survivor is Cori (and again, I have to wonder why Willow's spell took her to Slayers far beyond her help, instead of going here first) and she reports they were mobbed, but she doesn't specify their attackers.
Page 20: Cori's dying wish is that Willow not tell Buffy that they failed her.
With her death, Buffy suddenly exclaims to Xander and Dawn that she now does have telescopic vision... giving Dawnie's fears of a Monkey's Paw situation more credence since this is the very power that Buffy was trying to use last.
Buffy is able to use this new power to pick up Amy, Warren and General Beret sneaking through the forests. Amy senses that Buffy senses them.
Page 21: Before Amy can cast any defensive spells though, Buffy is right there with her speed. She wants answers from General Astonished.
Page 22: Xander and Dawn join them, with Xan training his pistol on them (which feels all kinds of wrong now... I suddenly don't like Xan with a gun).
Commentary: I like the look of panic on Buffy's face at Xander threatening even these enemies with a firearm.
Amy, Warren and General Goldwatch assure Xan, Dawn and Buffy that they weren't sneaking up on them to attack. They claim that Twilight has kicked them out after using them and they now want to help Buffy kick his ass.
Page 23: Willow makes her return, and reports to Buffy that Dawn has been right all along. Her new powers are not a gift to Buffy. And, something tied to them is about to go down... something really bad. She can sense it.
Commentary: Alas, there is plotting failure. Willow keeps speaking as if she thought Buffy was receiving the power-boost as a gift for putting the goddesses back into the ground and in stasis. Except, that Buffy was already using the superpowers... to defeat the goddesses and put them back in the ground and into stasis. She thinks that Buffy was getting a gift in order to perform the action that she was going to be gifted with the powers for doing?! Huh??
On the other hand, with Willow's other mystical time-capering thingies... well, maybe that is exactly what she's implying, but it's all so damned vague.
Page 24: Willow explains to Buffy that while they were spending the two days fighting first Twilight's assault and then the Earth goddesses, there were also massive assaults going on against the other Slayers in the outside world. Those who hadn't been part of the European retreat to Tibet. She tells Buffy that her new powers are coming from all of the dead Slayers... somehow, Buffy has become a siphon for their energy.
Back at the Twilight HQ, Andy has figured out that with the three of them teleported out, an exchange had to have taken place. Three out/three in (which is why Warren, Amy and General Whatsis is still in Tibet).
Faith questions this, because Riley reported that their enemy (not counting the shock troops) were four in number...
Page 25: ... the fourth being Twilight, himself, of course. Who is waiting for Andrew when he electronically shorts out their door lock. Twilight asks them if they'd like to hear all about his cool, master plan. And, he's standing on the bridge of the Enterprise.
Commentary: Also, Warren's password is JOSHUA. This is a reference to "War Games" with Matthew Broderick and Aly Sheedy.
The Good: Well, at least this season is finally wrapping up so we can know what the hell Twilight is up to and who he is soon.
The characterization of Xander and Dawn continues to be a highlight to me, but especially Dawn in this issue.
Buffy's new powers being a combination of the fractured Slayer energy being returned to her and Dawn's "Monkey's Paw" hypothesis is neatly done.
The Bad: Where the hell is the werewolves/Oz?!
The inside references were actively irritating. Obviously Joss is a comic book child of the 80's, like me, but the inside jokes are getting tiring.
I hate Buffy as superpowered for the reasons stated in the last review: her entire dynamic as a flawed hero who is often hurt because her Calling has consequences is thrown out the window.
Other Thoughts: I'm not completely buying Willow thinking the universe is somehow rewarding Buffy, either. And, I don't like the way she just blows off Dawn's concerns over this unprecedented level of power Buffy is displaying.
I also don't buy that checking on Giles, at least, wouldn't have been Buffy's first priority when she didn't see him immediately after their huge battle with the Twilight's army. It should not have taken half of the issue for Willow to wonder where he is, because Buffy should have already been wondering that herself.
The Score: I'm torn on this one. We are advancing the plot and getting set to finally get some answers, but so much time is being spent on being clever with the references, that it seems more the point than the actual story being told. I do like Dawn. I appreciate Andy immediately recognizing Warren's creations from their shared past. I just want to have some real answers, instead of a constant stream of jokes about comic book characters.
But, it isn't an empty comic since our characters learn how Buffy has her new powers. Let's give this one an average score:
3.0 outta 5 stars.
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