Buffy the Vampire Slayer
S8, Issue 33
Twilight Part II
"The Master Plan"
Script: Brad Meltzer, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richards Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Jo Chen
Blurb: Following the massacre of Slayers, werewolves, and humans alike, Buffy taps into her inner Superman - and reels from the revelations of Dawn and Xander's new relationship. But greater revelations present themselves concerning both those new powers and the elusive Twilight.
My Blurb: Or, as I like to title this issue, "Are You F#@$ing Kidding Me?!"
Spoilers, ahoy... but honestly, is there anyone else to be spoiled about this? And, don't you wish you DIDN'T know?
Page 01: We open with a pair of hands holding a bowl of, uh, popcorn? A voice asks if somebody would like to have some pirate's booty.
Page 02: Our speaker is Xander, again, and his audience is Buffy again. This time though, she's not in the mood for jokes. Or for pep talks.
Page 03: Her current problem is how she's gaining the powers of all of the Slayers who've been killed over the past year (206 so far). Though Xan is trying to make her see that she's not taking anything from them, because it's only energy coming to her after they're dead, Buffy still feels like she's become a vampire.
Page 04: Over at Twilight HQ, the big bad is asking which of the three that are his prisoner would like to step up and die first. Giles mutters that he knows that voice. Twilight points out that he's gotten rid of Amy, so her confusion magic isn't confusing them anymore.
Commentary: There is also the running joke about Twilight not remembering Andrew's name... ever. Yeah, a very minor running joke.
Page 05: Back with Buffy and Xander: Xander gives Buffy a pep speech anyway about how she isn't a vampire, she's just Chosen. She always has been. And she is getting this power boost now, because she's meant to do something with it to save them all.
Willow interrupts to remind Xander that they're under a time limit and asks if his pep speech has Buffy back in the fight. Buffy does admit that his pep speeches are pretty good, but Xan cops to copying this particular one off of Pa Kent in Superman the Movie.
It doesn't matter, Buffy is back up and running.
Commentary: I really wish they hadn't broken up the scene between Buffy and Xander by cutting to Twilight's HQ. It was on a nice roll and I always appreciate these quiet moments between Xan and Buffy when he's acting as her rock. They shouldn't have broken up the momentum on this one.
Page 06: Faith, I think, also recognizes Twilight's identity, and she is really pissed off about it. She goes on the attack, but he's able to snatch her by the throat in mid leap. As he's dangling her, she resorts to kicking him in the nads. Alas, his invulnerability includes his privates as well, so he's able to just throw her face first into the floor.
Commentary: First, again, I wish they hadn't broken up the Twilight scenes with the cutback to Buffy and Xan. Their conversation and then this confrontation between our good guys and Twilight should have been contiguous, rather than jumping between pages between them.
It would also have really made the anvils being dropped about who Twilight actually is much more effective, if you thought about it before the reveal. Giles and Faith are able to recognize Twilight's real voice, we know from previous issues that it is somebody intimately familiar with Buffy and isn't Riley Finn and now Faith's kick to his jewels... where have we seen that before in a Buffy vs. fight?
Not that I'm happy about this, but that's a rant for when we reach the reveal. I'm just saying I like the panels giving us the answer before it is actually shown outright to us.
Page 07: At the Slayer basecamp, Amy and Willow are forced to work together to uncloak Twilight's base. Amy had used her magic to hide his HQ three seconds in the future, though Willow complains her magic is sloppy. Amy replies she's just jealous that she didn't think of it. Willow tells her she's still a rat, and Amy replies she's still a bitch.
In the meantime, Buffy reveals that she knows Twilight hurt Faith. She can sense all of the remaining Slayers, now.
In the meantime, Warren is complaining to General McStash (who has gone from cheesy stach to full on porn stache between issues) that the Twilight base was his creation, not Twilight's. General assures him they'll get back on track as soon as they take him down.
They're within earshot of Dawn and she warns Xander that they're still not talking like they're giving up the crusade. Xan tells her they need to focus on Enemy Number One first, but he's clearly thinking ahead.
Commentary: I've mentioned Amy's sudden power up back during "The Long Way Home", so I won't rant here about it, but I do still find the super-magic she throws around (along with Willow) to be too convenient in doing or not doing whatever the plot contrives. Yes, that was the case largely in the TV series, too... but it's been turned up to 11 here.
Page 08: At Twilight HQ, Faith is slowly recovering from her head meeting the floor. Twilight, again pointing out his identity, actually sounds worried that he may have really hurt her, despite all that 'who wants to die now' talk.
Giles also seems to be putting pieces of the puzzle together, but it isn't Twilight's identity puzzle, no. He seems to be twigging onto the facts of what is actually happening with super-powered dude. The fact that he's invulnerable, superstrong, superfast and can fly is leading Giles to suspect THE TRUTH.
Commentary: I'm assuming here that he's able to guess THE TRUTH because he recognized the voice of our supervillain. I'm assuming that this person didn't have these powers before and that is why such generic comic-book powers now is causing the moment of revelation for Rupert. I'm assuming that this is going to become interesting to the rest of us within the next coupla pages...?
In the meantime, Amy and Willow's spellworks are coming up with a location and Buffy gets ready to super-storm the Twilight-keep.
Page 09: Twilight goes on to acknowledge Giles' suspicions, without telling us what the hell they're talking about. Twilight manages to sound a bit pissy toward Giles that he hasn't shared any of his information with Faith... and presumably not with Buffy either.
What's more, but he is fully aware of Giles traveling around Europe trying to locate something important, which seems to make him even more disappointed at the ex-Watcher for not sharing.
Commentary: This part is mildly interesting, simply because of the tone. It's almost as if Twilight wanted Faith, Buffy and the Slayer Organization to stop him but because Giles kept everything to himself....
Page 10: Buffy gives us determined face. Twilight intimates to Giles that they both know what Buffy has/is becoming and that it relates directly to Twilight. He also assures Rupert that Buffy can't fight him, which could be taken as a clue to his identity, or could just be bad-guy banter.
Twilight's stream of rant is interrupted by a disc hitting him in the head. It was Andrew, who took the time that Giles and Twilight were chatting to dig into Warren's nerd stash, where he was busy creating comic book paraphrenalia that actually works.
Andy gets ready to blast Twilight with a repulsor ray (Iron Man).
Commentary: Yeah, the geek-gasm continues which is heavy handed enough to annoy me, but I really appreciate that Andrew hasn't just been standing there the whole time listening to the (boring) chatter. With Faith down and Giles having an emotional epiphany, Andy was slipping away and armoring himself up. That's awesome.
It is kind of funny thinking about skinless Warren locked away in his lab, refusing food, telling Amy to stop bothering him, with everybody thinking he's working on the next magic missile of doom, just for him to walk out carrying a utility belt (Batman) and loudly exclaiming his pride.
Page 11: While Twilight threatens Andrew for his interruption and ultimately empty threats (we know an energy ray isn't going to hurt Twilight), the Willow/Amy duo get his castle uncloaked. This allows Buffy to super-intervene before Andy ends up splat.
Pages 12 & 13: Buffy crashes right through the castle walls, carrying Twilight up into mountains his base was tucked in. As she's getting ready to body slam him, she gives a callout to the Twilight phenomena by pointing out that she did that story first, and her vampire was way better. Twilight removes his mask...
Page 14: ... telling Buffy that he knows... because TWILIGHT IS ANGEL.
It sort of interrupts the flow of the fight, with Buffy shellshocked and Angel flying out of her grasp.
Commentary: Angel as Twilight. Let me count the ways I'm so tired of Angel vs. Buffy. BECOMING did this brilliantly, okay. They had the confrontation in Angel, clearing the detritus of their former relationship with Angel telling her to leave L.A. because she isn't a part of what he's doing there. They gave us the fun twist with Faith vs. Angel, and then threw in a bit of Faith vs. Angelus for fun and angst.
Enough, already. I'm tired of Angel becoming the bad guy to fight our heroes. The thing that makes those episodes so much fun/emotionally affecting is how spaced out the actual episodes were and that each time, there was a variation in who was fighting: either between Buffy and Faith, or between Angel and Angelus vs. a differing one of them.
The only place to go with this now, is a Faith/Buffy team up fight against a superpowered Angel -- but Faith isn't a part of this scenario as presented. She didn't get the super-duper power (although, as the truly Chosen since Buffy's death, the funky stuff really should happen to her instead of Buffy). So, now we're going to rehash the Buffy vs. Angel fight again?
Yes, obviously there is some twist on this with the whole Superman powers thing happening, but... I'm just not up for another B. vs. A. fight-a-thon, and yet another revisit of the "this is why we can't be together, gods - I love you, oh heartbreak-heartbreak-heartbreak".
But, this is what we've got, so let's get back to it.
Page 15: On the side of the mountain in deep forest, Angel tries to explain to Buffy that something greater themselves is happening between them. Buffy doesn't want to hear it.
She tells him his best asset before was that he wasn't a talker, so he should shut up.
Commentary: Yeah, that scene was pretty funny.
Page 16: Buffy spots Angel/Twilight levitating and has grabbed a tree. Not a branch, a whole tree. She's used the superspeed/strength combo to fashion a tree-trunk sized stake and throws it into Twilight's chest (awesome visual). Unfortunately, whatever has happened, it has placed Angel beyond the stake-to-the-heart vulnerability, even a supersized one.
Either back at basecamp, or nearby, or both... it's not clear to me how close Tibet was to Twilight's castle... Xan, Satsu and Wills hears a sonic boom. Willow thinks that the superpowers are fighting.
Meanwhile, Buffy is screaming at 'Angel' for killing all of those Slayers.
Commentary: And this is really why I have to presume/accept (I know there is argument on Angel's culpability in what is happening; whatever - we're talking about my personal canon and why now) that Angel is under a cosmic power whammy. This will actually make sense, because Buffy is also going to get all Out of Character in a bit. Now, it would have been easier to see that they were both really out of character because they aren't themselves, if Buffy hadn't been doing out of character stuff already... *sigh*
Anyway, Angel has done some dark things, without a doubt. He left his nemesis in W & H to their fate with Darla and Drusilla and he was at least a bit corrupted in his goals when he took over W & H. But, this is a whole new level of douchebaggery/murder and since Angel has his own title and so obviously won't be going anywhere, he can't really be doing anything that he can't recover from as a character. But this whole thing could work still, if the writing was sharp (it hasn't been) and the plotting was well done (uh... not) and if Angel hadn't been fully aware of what he was doing (they pulled this off when Dean & Sam kicked off the Apocalypse in Supernatural, because neither brother was aware of what they were doing until it was too late), but we'll see later that he is fully conscious of his actions and what they mean which creates a serious character problem.
So, Buffy's exclamation right here is the problem that I immediately had with Angel being Twilight: He can't slaughter a few hundred Slayers and then walk away and continue on as a character, unless it's as an ongoing, murderous villain. Now, truthfully, that could work. After all, in a time-skip/future vision we see Angel... not Angelus... leading demon forces on a slaughter during yet another apocalypse. But, that was under IDW, so you'd have to take that with a grain of salt since we're in a Dark Horse title now. But, it could work if this is the start of Angel's dark slide toward that bleak future... but it isn't... at least not directly acknowledged as such. That would be more of a fanwank trying to tie the two continuities together. So, the only way that I can keep going along with this character - and we should because Angel & Faith is a good title - is if he's not responsible for the Slayer murders and what else is coming up.
By-the-by, this would have been more interesting to me if Angel really were responsible for this... even though again, it would preclude Angel's being considered a good guy in his own titles ever again going forward, but it would also require a REASON and narrative JUSTIFICATION for his actions. Willow to Dark Willow and Warren's murder was precipitated by Will's magic addiction (don't even get me started on that 'magic is crack' BS) and Tara's being murdered right in front of her. We'd need this sort of thing for Angel in order to buy what could have led him into being Twilight. We don't have that.
And again, considering Buffy's own actions, I think it does lend credence to the fact that neither of our protaganists are actually in control of themselves, but are once again under the influence of PROPHECY and DESTINY and cosmic forces beyond their comprehension. Actually, rather than going with the proto-universe set up - this could have been much better with less of the Superhero genre shout outs and much more Lovecraft. But, now I'm rambling. The point is that in retrospect, I can't hold Angel in the disregard he's getting from some quarters of the fandom over this Twilight thing.
But, at the time of this comic's release, we didn't know any of this. And, when I read it... well, I was really pissed that Angel was even brought into this title in a major way like this. So, scoring wise, I'm stuck because I can't read these issues without applying what I now know, but I really should. How do I resolve this basic conflict between reviewing this issue as this issue only, divorced from future explanations, when none of it makes sense without those explanations (and you could argue it never does gel at any rate). This is what I'm choosing to do: I'm going to go on with the review as I've gotten it written, including asides like this one. But, I'm going to do my best during The Good, The Bad, The Score to only judge the comic based on what I see here and on what we know from past issues.
Page 17: Buffy and Angel get into close quarter combat... on Buffy's side, anyway. Angel just wants to talk. Buffy is angered by everything he's orchestrated, including the hatred of the Slayers by the U.S. government, but Angel is trying to tell her there is something much, much greater going on here that is tied to her new powers. He also suggests to her that Willow was wrong... Buffy isn't absorbing the energies of the dead Slayers.
Commentary: I'd actually prefer that Willow be wrong, simply because Faith is the Chosen. It just seems like if that was what was going on, it should be her that is getting the other Slayer powers. I understand why it would be Buffy -- her whole, "dead Slayer is now alive and was yanked from Heaven" could certainly short circuit a lot of the Slayer Prophecies and Other Weird Shit and cause them to involve her instead. But, often it feels to me like everyone working with the Buffy properties are actually forgetting that Faith is, in fact, the Chosen One at this point. It seems pretty weird that she's never had to deal with any destiny-things due to that.
Page 18: Angel tries to explain to Buffy that she had to be focused and that's why he's been putting her through hell by targeting her, her Slayers and her friends for the past year through being Twilight and setting up the cult. He claims that Buffy can now feel him when they're near to each other. He claims that she's been made ready for something.
Page 19: Buffy does admit to herself that she can feel Angel's presence, but isn't going to let that stop her from pounding him into the ground. Though, that isn't working out well, since Angel can feel her too, and is able to effectively dodge most of her blows.
Angel points out the cosmic glowworm thing around Buffy everytime she gets close to him... something that she hadn't noticed.
Commentary: And I hadn't either. But, yes, it is there. Cosmic Interference would also explain why Angel is sounding all wacky-doodle, too.
Elsewhere, Xan notes he can't hear any more fighting and Willow opines that she thinks they're talking.
Page 20: As Buffy looks at her glowing hands of wonder, Angel tries to convince her that she's feeling joy at their being so close to one another. His talk smacks of the whole lovesick thing, but Buffy tells him that he doesn't know her like he used to.
Commentary: Which is actually interesting because Angel said much the same thing to her when she followed Faith to L.A. and he threw her out of his city.
Page 21: Angel tells Buffy that there is a purpose to their being glowy and filled with power. He tries to tell her that everything they've been through together has been leading up to this moment, when maybe they can actually be happy together for a change.
He asks her if she doesn't want to be happy, and Buffy looks like she may be buying into this....
Page 22: Buffy levitates above Angel's height and stares down into his eyes. I thought she was going to punch him out and tell him he's full of crap... but no... she instead kisses him deeply.
Elsewhere, Satsu points out another sonic boom they heard. Willow, somehow, intuits that they're not fighting. She tells the others that she thinks they're f#@%ing.
Commentary: Okay, no. No, no, no. I don't buy that Willow somehow knows they're having sex now. I don't buy Willow using the word 'fucking' lightly. I don't buy Buffy ignoring Angel's atrocities and falling into his arms. Just No.
Well, until in retrospect, where I believe that Buffy is now under the cosmic control building toward the proto-universe.
But... as an issue without the future explanations:
The Good: Well, the cover is Jo Chen, so of course it is good. No points for that in scoring, though.
I really like Buffy and Xander's chat on pages 2, 3, and 5 in regards to what Willow believes about Buffy's powers.
I like the way that Twilight's identity has been revealed before the reveal actually happens (with a caveat as mentioned in commentary and below in The Bad).
I like some of the snark of an enraged Buffy toward Twilight-Angel.
The Bad: Angel being Twilight. He just doesn't belong in this title when he has his own stuff going on at IDW, and I don't buy his explanation that he had to turn the world on Buffy for her own good... WHAT THE FUCK?!
Buffy's entire giving into Angel's arguments, putting aside the Slayers he's murdered, nearly killing Xander and Dawn by allowing Warren to magic missile the Scotland HQ, teaming up with Amy and Warren in the first place just so she can have the chance to screw Angel again... I repeat, WHAT THE FUCK?!
Other Thoughts: So, there are hints that maybe something else is going on here in addition to Angel wanting Buffy back and her giving in, but it's so badly written! I HATE this issue... I HATE Angel's being the villain... I HATE Buffy by the end...
The Score: The entire Twilight saga has been boring from the start and now it has just took a turn into enraging. There are some nice character moments for Xander/Buffy, Dawn and Andrew, but I want this whole story idea to be forgotten.
1.75 out of 5
Retroactively: Well, considering my current belief that neither Angel's actions nor Buffy's is their own due to the glowy-super-powers to become as gods and start a new universe thing going on... well, this issue is still badly plotted, stretching Twilight's identity out too much and Angel still doesn't belong in this title. It still doesn't adequately explain why exactly Twilight had to get Buffy on the ropes, in order to make her ready to accept Angel's lovewand, when very clearly his entire conspiracy against her can only make her NOT want it. It doesn't explain why the other Slayers had to be exterminated if Buffy's not actually absorbing their powers to make her own stronger... which, even if she were, would still not make sense because the Slayers don't even have any of those powers... so actually her new powers coming from another source works way better, but then you still haven't explained why you're wasting any time at all with the other Slayers... TWILIGHT, YOUR BADLY THOUGHT OUT PLAN IS DUMB AND NONSENSICAL!!
2.50 out of 5
Oh, one last note too: I totally didn't remember that this arc doesn't even end with TWILIGHT. We still have LAST GLEAMING to get through. I seriously thought that everything in LAST GLEAMING was part of a six issue TWILIGHT tale. Imagine my horror when I dug the comics out of their boxes only to discover TWILIGHT is actually only 4 issues and then I have another 5 issues still before I can put S8 behind me and move on! Which also tells me that the TWILIGHT arc as a whole was stretched out 3 issues too much. Nine could easily have been 6.