Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 8, Issue 36
"Last Gleaming, PI"
Script: Awesome-Joss Whedon, Pencils: Astonishing-Georges Jeanty, Inks: Incredible-Andy Owens,
Colors: Fabulous-Michelle Madsen, Letters: Astounding-Richard Starkings & Super-Jimmy Betancourt
Cover Art: Flawless-Jo Chen
Blurb: Temperatures run high when Buffy and Angel reunite to fight all matter of evil things. Enter Spike- former vampire, former lover, latest prophecy keeper. Needless to say, things get complicated. In order to save humanity from crumbling in on itself, Buffy must elicit the help of those closest to her and take the fight home.
My Blurb: And, so begins our wrap up of S8 - which lasts the next 5 issues, and not-so-coincidentally the next 5 reviews on harsens-rob. Before we delve back into Twilight, I wanted to give a 'thank you for your hard work' to the unsung editors: Scott Allie, Matt Dryer, Katie Moody, Sierra Hahn, Freddye Lins, Daniel Chabon, & Brendan Wright.
Page 01: Our issue opens on a flashback to the Hollywood sign. We're only told that it was 'some time ago'.
Page 02 & Page 03: From a dimensional rift, Angel flies through the air, collides with the ground and has a giant 'O' from the sign fall on top of him.
Page 04: Angel gazes over the city of L.A. and can't quite believe its there, he's there, and everything looks... peaceful.
A talking dog at his hand confirms everything is copacetic.
Commentary: At least, that is what I'm getting... I honestly don't know about Angel's inner monologue about "expect to see lights". I believe this is actually some direct referencing to Angel's battle against faux-James and his sister in IDW's title -- which is pretty darned nifty.
Page 05: Thankfully for Angel's sanity, he recognizes that the talking dog isn't actually, but is a power. He snarks that crazed killers usually hear the magic dog talking and the mutt clarifies that he's actually only possessing the dog because he was conveniently close to where Angel had his crash land. The Power is also kinda excited to find his mutt-self has balls... which approximately half of the world will simply nod our head in understanding over.
Commentary: It was also a nice touch to have Angel correct the sign problem, while speaking to the magic dog while being completely unshocked by this latest weird development.
This also adds some interesting tidbits for my personal struggle to fit Angel Aftermath/S6 into some continuity with BTVS S8. It helps me to fit Angel's title into the 12-18 months between BTVS S7 and BTVS S8, while the Scoobies were busy actually setting up the New Slayer infrastructure and resources. We can now presume safely that Angel's turn to Twilight is occurring at the very end of Angel S6, possibly right at its close or slightly before (see his awesome power in IDW's issue 44).
There may still be wrinkles of course, because IDW and DH are rivals and they weren't interested in playing nice but I think we can make it work.
Page 06: Power-Dog tells Angel that once again he's been Chosen, which after all of his previous deals, he is very twitchy about. Power-Dog tells him he should be feeling something special any moment.
Above where they're talking, a plane's wing blows off in a mid-air accident.
Page 07: Angel gives the big, hero's NOOOOOO of Tragedy. But, shockingly to him if not us, he suddenly displays his Superman powers by lifting off the ground and charging through the falling wing to intercept the now-descending-at-fatal-velocity jet.
Page 08: As per Superman's exploits, Angel is able to bring the plane into a crashlanding without a fatal explosion on the tarmac. Oceanic is saved!
Commentary: But their planes sure do look weird. Is this a jet, or an orbital shuttle? And just how much cargo is this thing carrying (check out how much plane there is under the passenger section)?
Page 09: On the runway, random passenger thanks Angel profusely. But, it's not actually random passenger but random-Dog-Power in a new host. She tells him that this is his reward, which is gonna be way better than any silly Shanshu.
Commentary: Again, we have a very nice nod to IDW's stories both acknowledging Cordelia the Dragon and Angel's battle against the fake-angelic James. That is awfully awesome of Scott, etc. over at DH for not simply jettisoning everything Angel has been through in his other title.
I also just want to give a kudo here for the artwork, except for the blocky jet, because it's looking very nice - especially in face close-ups.
Page 10 & Page 11: We skip away from Angel's new powers to join wherever Spike is hanging out these days post-leaving Angel Investigations (which also happens in S6 of the IDW title).
He's currently on the forward-outer hull of the Bug-Alien ship... apparently on the run from some sort of bad-aliens. The ship's design is inspired by steam-punk, which I guess could be taken as a clever nod to Spike's 'punk' nature... or it was just a random thing to do to be cute. Whichever.
Spike's positioning suggests, but doesn't confirm, that he may also have been given Superman powers (future-edit me: He doesn't) as his first panel definitely suggests another common Superman rescue trope.
Commentary: And just as an aside, I like the steampunk-ship... I've not warmed up to the insecti-aliens.
Page 12: Spike finds that the space-warp he was escaping through (also seen in his first panel) has managed to dump him back on Earth, and in London. The ship is on a collision course and he orders a sharp turn... before then deciding it'd be funnier to run through Big Ben.
A bit later, Ben is smoking in the background and Spike has retired to a pub for a pint. He reads the local paper to get caught up on what has been happening since his departure.
This timeframe is into S8, sometime after Harmony's coming out and her surge in popularity, along with the cratering of the Slayers' reputation.
Page 13: Angel in the meantime has continued to receive advice from the Power involved. This New Player warns Angel that Buffy's enemies are going to come at her from all sides, unless he takes the role of the Big Bad and hold them behind his banner. It also tells Angel that his new destiny is to save Buffy from herself by taking her to another plane... but she has to be ready, which means that she has to have the same power he now has. This cannot come to her without her being mentally and emotionally prepared for it. He wants Angel to act as a focus for Buffy's anger and hatred to bring this about.
Commentary: So we have some more explanation for what the f* Angel has been doing as Twilight. Do I completely buy it as explaining away this season? Maybe not completely, but I'll appreciate their attempts at giving us some real answer for how this ball started rolling.
Back onboard bug-ship, Spike is surfing the internet for pictures of the anti-Buffy squad. Despite Angel's Twilight outfit and his Superman-hovering-Power-pose, he immediately assumes it to be Angel... without explaining why.
Page 14: We rejoin the present, where Spike is evacuating Twilight-Castle while Twilight-Angel and Super-Buffy hold off the flood of demons continuing to invade despite their mutual turning down of the Twilight-realm of Bliss.
Commentary: Shout out to 'Pitch Black' in the demon design.
Page 15: Buffy, covered in giant monster grue, asks after Angel's foes. He's got it under control. He tells her he doesn't trust Spike, or his convenient timing.
Buffy tells Angel that she doesn't exactly trust him. Loves him, yes... but not trusts him after all that has happened.
Page 16: The battle continues, as Buffy tells Angel about her last seeing Spike (his self-sacrifice in "Chosen"), which he assures her Spike told him all about repeatedly. She tells him that whatever his motive for appearing at this convenient moment, she'll take the help and deal with any ulterior motives later.
She also expresses her extreme gratitude to Angel for helping her to have fun and feel great again, after far too long.
Commentary: Wow, do I have such conflicted feelings on their convo here. I mean is Buffy continuing to just forget that he wiped out hundreds of Slayers in an ill-conceived plan to have her abandon her friends to another dimension? Has she forgotten that he (and by extension of her powers) probably she are still being at least somewhat influenced by a Power whose no doubt trying to figure out a way to save his pet plan?
I'm just... I'm on board with Buffy's feelings for Angel (expressed on the next page) because he was willing to give up Blissful Godhood for her desire to return, but there is also EVER SO MUCH that should still be there, and right now Buffy is acting all Power-of-Love about it all. I'm uncertain whether to take her at her word here, if she's still being clung to by the Power who really wants her to stay with Angel for the power-children it had planned, or if she's just in a crisis situation and can't deal with the lingering trauma of the past year at this particular moment and so is in a state of denial about just how dark things got for her and her friends and allies because of Angel/Twilight.
Or is she just saying, "what happened before wasn't you, it was the Grand Plan manipulating you - but this is now who you are and who I love"?
I just don't know where I should stand on this one.
Page 17: Angel intuits that Buffy is about to ask him to leave her again. She offers it will be easier to talk to Spike about what his current agenda is in making the sudden concern without him there. Plus, the Scooby Gang is still very unforgiving... which Willow shows as she flies out to rejoin the main battle with her magicks, by "oops, missed" with a spell to very briefly turn Angel into a giant frog.
Page 18: Angel heads off to save Slayers around the world, and worries that Buffy and Spike are going to get sexually reacquainted while he's gone. Buffy assures him her attention is his, but she also needs to get Spike's piece of the puzzle about what he knows or suspects he knows. She looks forward to seeing Angel again soon to wrap up this mess.
Page 19: Aboard the bug-ship, Dawn is freaking out at the bug-people. Spike is ordering a new course set. Faith snarks at Angel's expense (which is ironic, considering she'll share his title and live with him for Angel & Faith [which I'll continue to refer to as Angel, S7]). Buffy profusely thanks Spike for the intervention and asks about what he knows and how.
Spike snarks at Angel and her gettin' sexy, which he doesn't appreciate in the least considering she still smells of him. He has used up a lot of favors and some of that detective work he learned as part of AI to piece together what they're currently dealing with. He warns her that she and Angel created an entirely new reality -- and then had the gall to leave it abandoned....
Page 20: Spike tells her that they've got a demon invasion to deal with and he's here to help shut that down, but his very real concern is that an entire universe is going to come calling to find its parents.
Right now though, his primary interest is in getting Buffy to a super-widget to stop the in-pouring demons around the world: The Seed of Wonder.
Page 21: Spike gets on the bug-intercom to reveal where the gang is being taken and why. He tells them that their hunting down the source of all magic currently on or in the Earth. It is buried in a temple, swallowed by the Earth located under a city which was also then swallowed by the Earth. "And where the Heart is... is Home."
Meanwhile, Buffy is upset about the abandoned-Universe-looking-for-me thought and Willow is consoling her.
Giles is trying not to barf at the view of Amy giving kissage to her skinless boyfriend (how does that even work, realistically).
Page 22: Meanwhile, under Sunnydale... a form of The Master is standing over the seed and he knows that The Gang are coming to join him.
Commentary: Oh, possibilities - Is this a resurrected Master? Is it something new taking his shape because of Buffy's involvement? Is it The First, returned?
I was so excited when I saw The Master's ugly mug over The Seed, just because this is (like S7) a return to the beginning, which seems appropriate for the big, cosmic storyline. I also had a niggling worry though, that we already did this in S7 and considering how much I haven't liked the whole Twilight thing, I was really concerned they were going to blow this.
The 'return of The Master' is also nifty because he's so tied into both Angel's and Spike's expanded backstories through Darla. If only Drusilla could have been pulled to the Seed as well....
But, I was happy to see Buffy's superpowers were probably tied to the Seed and was hopeful that she and Angel were going to be stripped of these powers with this return-to-Sunnydale-one-last-time bit.
Also, as an aside -- I always thought of having a spin-off of 'spanderverse', where the Seed of Wonder (and what is coming up that I won't spoil here, even though I'm sure everyone interested already knows) played into a 'spanderverse/The Walking Dead' combined 'verse. Since I can't even seem to finish the barely begun BTVS: S6 version of 'spanderverse' though.... *sigh, damn it, I hate being me so much of the time... but this is about Buffy, S8 - not all the other crap, so let's move on.
The Good: The artwork throughout (though that isn't impacting scoring).
Angel's flashbacks and Spike's involvement in this affair was good.
Willow's continued bitterness toward Angel/Twilight (another irony, considering who she's going to turn to in Angel, S7).
I'm also seriously loving that full page image of The Master -- it's poster gorgeous (but again, no scoring impact).
The Bad: I don't find anything that pisses me off.
Other Thoughts: The 'yet-another-power-that-be' is past cliche at this point and I wish she could put a moratorium on any more cosmic threats for awhile... like the next three years or so, and then return with a direct-tie-in (as close as legally permissible) to the Lovecraft mythos. I've fallen in love with this idea since I mentioned it in the 'Twilight'-titled arc.
I'm not sure why Twilight's former army, Amy and Warren are still hanging out. This big battle would have been a good time for Amy to have had to divert so much energy to defense, that she lost Warren and would have made her either an uber-ally against what is happening now, a complete Hater-Foe for Angel later, or written her out of the story for a later Big Bad return.
I have deep concerns about Buffy's entire "I forgive you Angel, and we had amazing sex so let's keep planning on doing that a lot more" attitude shown here. It just doesn't feel right or organic to their experiences that she completely blows off what has actually been happening, especially without an in depth convo on what parts of the past year were Angel's and what parts were controlled-by-cosmic-forces-Angel's.
The reintroduction of The Master can be played several ways, and I'm ansty about not having another (imo, of course) screw-up like the reintroduction of Angel's been.
The Score: I like this one. Any concerns I have is for how things are going to play out, and the hangover of the Twilight-arc in general, but this seemed to give us a good-faith effort in putting the general mess in order. I like how Angel and Spike have been handled here and that power-ending on page 22 is very exciting (despite myself telling me to tamp down expectations, considering...).
3.75 out of 5