Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 8, Issue 35
Twilight, Part IV
a.k.a. "The Power of Love"
Script: Brad Meltzer, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: The Superlative Jo Chen (seriously, checking out those actor renditions... amazing)
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 these new powers and the elusive Twilight.
My Blurb: Last issue was about PG-13 rated sex, bordering on a soft-R in some places. This issue is about something greater than Buffy and Angel crotches. THANK YOU.
Oh, my god, I DID IT AGAIN --- edited to include this spoiler warning
Page 01: We start with a tight shot on a fist. We can tell by both the dialog and the bit of outfit and blonde hair that this is Buffy. "It's a trap."
Commentary: I already have more positive feelings about this issue. Note that Buffy isn't all, "IT'S A TRAP!!!!" ... nah, she's just making a statement.
Page 02: Twilight-Angel tries to convince her that this idyllic paradise isn't another trap, but she's not buying. As she says, through experience, it's always a trap.
She's convinced that she hears orcs coming over the horizon...
Page 03: ...but her vicious Orc attack turns out to be a butterfly fluttering. A killer butterfly, mayhaps? There was one in a Dean Koontz novel wasn't there (well, a shapeshifting evil force) and I believe in D & D, there are butterflies that flock you for your body heat and can smother you isn't there? (It's been decades since my D & D days.)
But in this case, it does appear Twilight speaks truth.
Page 04: When the attack doesn't come, Buffy is a bit at a loss. I'm not sure about Twilight/Angel at this point. It's possible that Angel is back to himself, because he seems a bit confused as well. Their clothing is changing unbidden and with it the world around them. If he was still hooked into the Universal Consciousness, he should have more inkling about what is happening.
On the otherhand, it's Angel. Maybe it's his natural denseness overcoming his brainwashing, but he's also still Twilight.
Page 05: On Earth, Willow and Xander try to get Giles to plain-speak about what last issue was about. It isn't easy, since we know the last two issue have been a complete mess.
Giles explains that Buffy and Angel have completed their ascension into a new dimension of their creation, called Twilight. He infers that Twilight is the Universal Impulse leading to its own creation in this other realm, and that it was responsible for Angel and Buffy's actions - at least for the most part (in a desperate attempt to make Angel still viable as a character -- your mileage may vary).
He continues with the birth metaphor, leading Xander to conclude that the demons now flooding the world around them is some sort of afterbirth. Which he calls 'Placenturians', which is both gross and awesome.
Commentary: I've already discussed my love for S8 Xander. He's been my favorite character all season, since Buffy's bank-robbing revelation. I hugs him and stroke him and call him George.
Page 06: Giles has informed them that, alas for us, our world has become expendable.
Commentary: Which, no... in keeping with the whole effing 'balance' idea, which I've already insulted enough last issue, should be "our reality has been given back to the forces of darkness to counter the created Twilight realm Buffy and Angel have created'. Do I really need to go back and re-write this whole arc? 'Cause I'm not actually getting paid for that sort of work, y'know.
Our Gang is then interrupted by more dimensional rifts, one of which is opening in front of them. Willow starts throwing her magic and Faith springs into action. Xan has Dawnie use the iPad to issue a Global Alert to all Slayer divisions.
Commentary: Man, I really don't mean to keep reiterating my points from last issue. Honestly, I really ranted over there. But... I MUST. It makes zero sense that if the Universe wrote off our entire reality for it to have somehow restored the mystical powers of Willow and the Slayers. Especially, if we must keep that whole, mutha-nonsensical 'balance' explanation in mind. Helping them resist is not balancing the Twilight reality. And, THE UNIVERSE ISN'T SUPPOSED TO GIVE A SHIT AT THIS POINT.
*sigh* It's okay. It's all going to be mute at the end of S8... let's just try to rant a little as we're capable of and get through this going forward, okay?
Page 07: In the meantime, Warren accosts Andy for the Captain America shield. Andy won't give it up, but does offer Iron Man's repulsor glove for defense.
Unfortunately for Andrew, Warren's version of the iconic shield is not made out of a Marveltastic Alloy. It shatters like the cheap knockoff it is, after Andy - another alas - pushes Warren out of the way.
Commentary: I really like this demon design. It's got this Lovecraftian feel to it, and the red spider-eyes creep me out. I wish it was given much, much more detail though to make these invading demons seem more like the 'evil is retaking Earth again' that should be occurring for this scenario. Willow fighting a Giant Old One would be really cool under these circumstances, and her relatively easy defeat would really sell home that this is doomsday for humankind... again, and finally.
Page 08: Andrew lying bleeding seems to genuinely shock Warren and he uses his purloined repulsor ray as a shield to ward off the continuing attack temporarily.
Interestingly, he shouts for help from Willow and Xander... not Amy.
Amy, meanwhile, asides to General Pornstachio that Warren's not clear on their plans to kill everyone including Andrew afterward anyway. He advises focusing on the first problem.
Page 09: In Twilight, Angel and Buffy discuss their circumstances some more. Angel tries to impress on her that they've reached a realm of pleasure together. She's sure this is the Velveeta Cheesiest line ever.
I'm not sure about that, but it has to be in a top 5.
Page 10: Angel or Twilight-Angel or whatever points out that the world is changing in direct relation to themselves. They're shaping the peaceful reality around them.
Page 11: Buffy questions the choice of clothing, if that's true. Angel states pretty convincingly that her outfits are coming from Slayers past that are a part of her heritage, just as presumably, his are coming from his past.
He tells her to think of it as a higher plane (hmmm... see, I thought it was a 'plain of existence', so the Twilight Arc is not completely useless; it was educational).
Buffy reverts to her impression that it is a trap, just a pleasure-based one. She proves this by wiping out the whole thing to reveal they're trapped in a blank, white space...
... or as she puts it, "A Daffy Duck cartoon".
Page 12: Angel tells Buffy that the blank space was her idea... they can shape the reality as they will. Buffy wants to shape it where her friends are a part of it, and Angel points out she can do that, too.
Page 13: She tears a hole in the white place (and it's drawn like a tear in the paper, which is 4th wall-ish... like possibly a shout out to an issue of The Sensational She-Hulk -- in which she awesomely tripped over a staple between pages).
Commentary: See, that's the problem with all of those comic book references, guys. I'm seeing references you're not even being blatant about, and it's making me want to re-read those instead of continuing. To give a proper prop though, at least I'm finding this issue better written -- as long as you go with the plot points of last issue, instead of what I feel it should have been.
Buffy sees Faith and... uh... somebody fighting for their life. Angel tells her they have the power to fix things, now. He assures her they can all be happy.
Commentary: I'm just not sure about this part of the story. Obviously, this is necessary because Buffy has to realize she can't save everyone after all from where she is, so she can return in the knick of time. But, it just seems to me that if she wanted her friends, Twilight (the dimension) would have conjured them from her memories and they'd be indistiguishable from the genuine article, at least until her next wish altered the landscape and they vanished again. And, since they've also already added extra pages, they could have cut to the quick on the dimensional explanation part of the infodump and gone that route instead. This still would have led to where we need to get, but would have remained consistent with the explained nature of Twilight (the place), and with the already established point that the Universal Consciousness has already forgotten about Earth's plain in total. It doesn't care about that anymore, so it shouldn't be helping to open rifts to it as if it might still matter. Right?
Page 14: On Earth, Warren and Faith are being pushed back, but she is able to grab the wounded and unconscious Andy. Willow and Amy fight back to back, until Amy takes a blow, as these new demons are able to break through their spellworks.
Commentary: Which really kind of makes my point that the demons could really have been twisted, deformed and utterly alien design and it would have added a great ambiance to this whole thing... they really should have gone back to the artwork of titles like "Eerie" or "The Vault of Horror" for ideas.
Page 15: Angel, on seeing the straits that Earth is in, tries to convince Buffy that her friends can handle this just like they handled things when she was dead.
But, she isn't willing to bet on that.
Page 16: More discussion about being in Twilight vs. worrying about the 'lower plane'
Page 17: Buffy points out the one constant about being Buffy: She fights for her family. Everytime.
Angel, now just being douche, pulls out the "this is what you're meant for... this is what the Universe wants", but Buffy reminds him that she is the last person to do as she's told.
Commentary: I love Xander calling to Buffy. Warren points out that she can't hear him anymore, but Xan tells him that she can. She Always Can Hear Him with complete conviction. It very much reminds me of Willow's utter faith in Buffy while under Warren's torture and her spirit was in the astral plane, so I'm taking it as a sweet callback to the beginning of S8. Where I kind of wish I hadn't left.
Page 18: Angel (dressed direly in his 'Miami Vice' wear) asks her if she's really going to throw away what the Universe has spent millions of years setting up.
Do we even need to wonder what her answer is?
Commentary: Actually, considering this past season, I'll forgive you wondering what the writers are going to have her do.
Page 19: Buffy alters her clothing into combat wear, and pulls her hair back in the fighting ponytail. Angel has also reverted back to the black coat of kick-ass, seeing the writing on the wall.
They both leave the now empty Twilight dimension behind them.
Page 20 and 21: In a very nice two page spread, Buffy and Angel (one per page) dive in to fight the demon onslaught with their new powers.
Commentary: Hmmm. The new powers are still hanging around? That kind of makes them invulnerable, which makes their kick-ass-ness less impressive, which is kind of a mis-step. We need to see Buffy and Angel at actual risk of being hurt or even killed by these 'new breed of demon', to underscore what they just gave up to come to the rescue, but we don't really get that. Sure, they've given up a dimension of bliss... but if they're allowed to keep their super-Twilight-power, then did they truly make a profound sacrifice? I mean, is their having to go back into battle really the sacrifice we're meant to see it as, if they're going into battle without any vulnerability? Isn't that far more like fun, considering how much Buffy actually loves kicking the demonic ass in?
I don't hate it, because we're still in the Superman mode of comic for the moment, but it seems like this would have been the ideal place to impose the penalty of telling the Universe 'no'.
Page 22: With SuperBuffy and Twilight-Empowered Angel, the tide of battle is instantly turned (which, see commentary directly above). Willow tells Super-Angel that she preferred Angelus, just by-the-way, which he admits he deserved.
Commentary: Yeah, I did chuckle pretty hard at Buffy apologizing to Willow and her response being, "I know, I know -- You don't know what came all over you".
Page 23: Dawn warns they've got another attack wave coming in... but, Willow recognizes it as something welcome... she's rather excited to see the huge metal ball crashland.
Page 24: Everyone stops short at recognizing the new arrival... which turns out to be the only person other than Buffy or Faith that should battle one of Angel's messes...
Oh, wait... no, it isn't Connor either.
Page 25: Yay, Spike!
Commentary: Hating the artwork for his hands, though.
The Good: The characters are sounding like the people I love. Which, is also a good for *most* of the dialog, then. Especially Warren's sudden concern for his oldest, still living frenemy.
Uh. Everything else good is really covered under my asides and commentary, so I won't repeat.
The Bad: I don't think I'll put anything here, really. The stuff that I would consider bad is actually just brought over from the plot as a whole. The way that those elements were handled here, though, within the structure of the previous issues' writing was okay.
Other Thoughts: But, those elements were simply mis-handled, in my opinion. This could have been much, much more cohesive and logical than it was and still gotten us to where we needed to go. I'm disappointed... but I didn't burn with a fiery hatred.
I'm also, despite my 'yay', mixed feeling-ed about Spike suddenly making an appearance. Mostly, I think, because of how Angel was handled. Is this going to be awesome, a bust, or a severely mixed bag... it's sad that as long as it isn't a bust, I'll actually think of it as a success.
TWILIGHT was the worst arc of S8.
The Score: I'm actually pretty okay with this one, but I am going to dock a little due to the continued logic mis-steps and missed opportunities:
2.75 out of 5 (with the average being 3)