Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Last Gleaming, Part III"
Script: Joss Whedon & Scott Allie, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Jo chen
Blurb: Temperatures run high when Buffy and Angel reunite to fight all manner of evil things. Enter Spike - vampire with a soul, former lover, latest prophecy keeper. Needless to say, things get complicated. In order to save humanity from crumbling on itself, Buffy must elicit the help of those closest to her and take the fight home.
Page 01: We start our issue with Angel lying on the ground, bloody faced, clawed up. There is a voice off panel asking him if he really thought he'd be getting off that easily.
Page 02: The personification of the New Universe is still a might touchy about being abandoned by 'dad' and 'mom'. He intends to advance himself enough to show Buffy what glorious and terrible can be. And, he's going to use Angel as Twilight to do it, despite Angel's own feelings that he had defeated his better/worst self when he left Twilight the Dimension.
Commentary: So many thinky-thoughts in this exchange. First, note how the New Universe Personification refers to Angel and Buffy as abandoning it. I didn't realize it until this review, but really this ties into the ongoing issues that Joss has with fathers. Angel's dad was a prick, Wes' dad was a prick, Xander's dad was a prick, Gunn's dad was absent (Dead? I can't remember the backstory.), Willow's dad is distant, Lorne's dad was a prick, Buffy's dad turned into an absent prick, Spike's dad was absent, Connor's foster-dad was a manipulative prick and Tara's dad was a prick. I think the only one to escape relatively unscathed was Cordelia (Criminal dad, but a good father to her before his troubles.) and Fred.
So, Angel has really become a prick now, at least as far as the New Universe is concerned. More, Buffy could be seen as taking on the role of her father. Leaving the home, and then forgetting about the kid left behind. She and Angel have really taken the place of their more neglectful parent, despite their best wishes.
Second Point is the way that the New Universe Manticore Aspect points out (with some seeming knowledge -- it doesn't sound like a boast) that the world around them is on the wane. This ties directly into the New Universe's creation itself. Our world is waning, back into the demon's hands, specifically because of Angel's seduction as and master plan of Twilight.
Which leads to Point Three: Very early on in BTVS S8, Buffy was referred to as a Queen of the Slayers for being the first one still alive even after being killed twice and for being responsible for sharing the power. Genevieve wanted to kill her because she thought Buffy had set herself up as Queen (suggesting that Rodon referred to Buffy as a Queen when he was poisoning her mind) and wanted the title. Now, here, the Personification refers to Buffy again as the Queen. We've also seen all of the other Slayers - even Kennedy and Faith - take a deferential view when Buffy speaks. She may have shared her power in S7, but clearly throughout this season, she never gave up her authority, even when she was feeling mopey about her responsibilities in "The Long Way Home". So, again, we now have somebody (roughly) related to Buffy's powers who wishes to force her to abdicate this authority by deposing her (through assassination, even!).
I think Buffy's whole arc this season hasn't just been about her being corrupted because of the needs of the Slayers, after all -- It's been about how even though she wanted to share the power, she also wanted to stay in charge of things. She didn't want to let go of holding authority over everyone else, which she will finally end up doing between this arc and S9. It's an interesting thread that I hadn't noted!
Page 03: The Manticore follows up on the authority issue with the line, "Long live me" ... as in "Love live the Queen/King". He clarifies that although Angel is the Key to Twilight's/The New Universe's soul, it is Buffy who set things in motion with her activating the Potentials and throwing the entire mystic balance out of wack.
Angel tries to deny that there can be a Twilight, still, but Manticore informs him that he's still Twilight and the Key to bringing about what he was supposed to have done. Really, Buffy is superfluous at this point.
Commentary: Now, this is interesting because it hints that the Buffyverse also has a soul, which may have now been reincarnated/moved to the Twilightverse. One wonders, again, if this is a cyclic thing and that our Buffyverse received such a transplant/reincarnation from the Universe existing before the one our characters inhabit. I also speculate that the Seed may provide a physical link to this Universal-Soul (God?) which is why it is so important, and that if this is so, Magick provides a way for humans and other mystic-realm creatures now on this plain to commune with this Soul/God. This makes me speculate further, that the Manticore/Consciousness of Twilightverse will either bore a Seed, transport the existing one, or further evolve into an Aspect of The Seed as the Twilightverse evolves. Pretty heady thoughts for a middle issue of an season ending arc!
One thing I'd like to see though, is Faith and Spike having to deal with a direct Prophecy. According to the Blurb, Spike is keeping/has kept a Prophecy but except for helping Buffy, I don't see what this could be referring to. And (as I've mentioned before) as to Faith -- she should have the "official" Slayer line, even if this line isn't actually relevent currently. Any outstanding Prophecies should really be her purview, shouldn't they? Or has the fact Buffy is the "Queen of the Slayers" still forcing her into this role because she never 'abdicated her authority' to Faith or one of the other Now Chosen?
Hmmm. Thinky-Thoughts. It's making this whole Twilight thing a bit more interesting to me, than it did the first time around (but I still hold that the Twilight-titled arc was awful.
Page 04: Underground, the gang is putting the pieces together. The Master also reveals that he is in fact the Master Vampire, although far more than we ever thought 9 years ago (Buffy's seven seasons plus the mumble-mumble months before S8). It turns out that The Seed has been pulling The Master's strings (as its Guardian) for at least 800 years.
Commentary: In fact, I could easily see The Seed being responsible for that Earthquake that trapped The Master when he went off-script and tried to open the Hellmouth. And further, I wonder if Xander didn't get a bit of a helping hand in bringing Buffy back, explaining her odd statement "I feel strong. I feel different." after her first resurrection as a way for The Seed to temporarily destroy The Master ... and his ambition... in order to get him back to the purpose it has designated him for.
Wow. I had no idea when I was dreading this arc so much, that I'd actually be reevaluating everything! I'm really starting to dig this (except for my general objection of Angel being Twilight, because I still think Dawn would have been more interesting in this role).
Page 05: The Master goes on to point out that if they destroy The Seed, they'll doom the world just as Willow previously suggested due to her Snake-Woman's lament. Spike points out that Buffy has put Twilight's plans behind her, but that they're major problem now is the demons who have continued arriving in expectation that they've got to get their claims in on the soon-to-be-available real estate.
Meanwhile, Dawnie speaks for the frustrated fans as she points out that the whole major plot points of this season have been really badly confusing. She also points out that the demons Spike spoke of seem to be making strides above their heads.
Commentary: Cool points to both Andrew still using Iron Man's repulsor rays and Faith getting to use the Slayer Scythe again. Yay, Yay, Yay for Faith!
Page 06: Even worse, an army of new players teleport in where they are looking to grab ownership of The Seed. Dawn gets backhanded and hits her head hard, referring back to our cover. Xan, no doubt, sees a replay in his head of Anya and Renee's losses.
Page 07: Our Gang go on the offensive, while Xander sees to Buffy's sister.
Page 08: It turns out Dawnie is injured, but fine. Buffy sends Xan away with her (as she tried to do in S7, but this time Dawn doesn't complain -- she's sprained her ankle, is dizzy, and doesn't have a handy stungun).
Meanwhile, The Master offers a truce to Buffy to work side by side to protect The Seed.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, Angel is getting some mystic mindjob on him, by the one-panel look we get.
Page 09: Buffy is not charmed by the idea of an alliance. She goes to stake him again, but Willow stops her, pointing out that they're at war with a demon invasion and they're not winning.
Page 10: As the gang head further into the former-Sunnydale tunnels, Buffy complains that The Master was their original big bad who also killed her.
Wills validates her feelings before telling her to get over it. Buffy tells Willow that she's holding something back from them and she wants to know what... specifically what happened during her recent fainting spell.
Commentary: I find this sort of interesting too, because Willow is suddenly (similar to S6 while Buffy was dead, and S7 when Buffy was in her deep depression) stepping forward to forcefully call the shots again. I'm actually surprised in retrospect that Buffy and her work together still as well as they do, but I do wonder if this played into Willow spending so much time away from Buffy. Could it be that they're both clashing much more than we've seen (though we've certainly gotten plenty of hints that this may be so in bits throughout the season) because of their both wanting to be in a leading role. And, are we about to see Buffy and Willow come to near blows over The Master, Twilight and The Seed?
Hmmm. More thinky-thoughts about how this all impacts everything before it; more and more interesting page by page.
Page 11: As the gang arrives at The Seed, Willow tells Buffy about her journey to Aluwyn's plain. Giles is disturbed by how much he's obviously missed while he was on his secret missions with Faith (WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN WORTH A LIMITED SERIES INSTEAD OF SPIKE AND WILLOW! I'm still a bit miffed at not seeing much, much more of the Giles/Faith partnership).
Page 12: Unfortunately for everybody, The Seed isn't very interested in staying aboard the Earth-train. It, seemingly anyway, is totally down with Twilight's plans to transport it to the Twilightverse (answering my queries about this very subject above). The Master, in his role of Guardian, feels an irresistible impulse to fight Buffy and her team.
Page 13: Buffy, not wanting to partner with The Master anyway, fights back but he's far more powerful than she due to The Seed upgrade.
Meanwhile, probably in mind of Aluwyn's warning that Buffy would destroy The Seed, Willow is still very nervous with Buffy being anywhere near it. She tells the others that Buffy can't beat him here and urges that she go topside to fight. She also tells The Master that the rest can help him protect The Seed - though how that is going to accomplish anything other than a status quo that can't last long I don't think has really occurred to her yet.
Meanwhile, again, Angel is still undergoing... whatever (more Cosmic Brainwashing?) by the Twilight Embodiment.
Commentary: Also, isn't it weird that Angel's kids (who he shouldn't be able to have, but does anyway) keep turning on him?
Page 14: With Buffy having been called off, she and Giles discuss his looking for The Seed and not telling her about the Twilight phenomena briefly.
She also worries over Angel. Meanwhile, he is being bathed in the green light of Twilight's Consciousness.
Commentary: The coming of this page and Buffy and Giles' very brief discussion is really clumsy. The timing is off from the page before and we didn't even get to see how they convinced Buffy not to fight with The Master... it just occurred. Between pages.
Page 15: Above ground, Angel has been mind-wammied by the Manticore. He can't even pretend to operating as an indepedent agent as this point.
Page 16: Above the battlefield, Army Guy (whose mustache seems to get thicker and bigger between panels), Amy and Warren break out of containment.
Amy snarks against Willow's focus. She goes to heal injured Army Guy, but he's had enough of his two cohorts and officially ends their partnership.
Page 17: Buffy, Giles and Spike make it aboveground where it is expected Buffy's superpowers will come back in more force now that she's away from The Seed. Spike can't join her due to it still be daylight. Giles says he won't be of much use to her out on the battlefield, but there is something that he can do....
Page 18: Giles tells Buffy again how proud he is of all that she's become... not the super-girl, but the amazing woman. He heads back down into the caverns, while Spike plays entry guard and Buffy looks over the virtual cornocopia of demons who want to enter the tunnel after the all-valuable Seed.
Page 19: Meanwhile, Xander drags injured Dawn (whose injury has moved to her side -- oops) to the Army Base. He realizes that he's just arrived at Twilight encampment.
The Army Guy is there (teleported by Amy, presumably, but the way he treated her I don't know why she helped him out) but he's more interested in helping stop what is happening right now, rather than lead Twilight's troops against Buffy's team any further.
(Also, his Mutant Facial Hair Powers have also now given him sudden stubble.)
Page 20: General Army talks to Xander in order to convince him to help them destroy The Seed that is fueling this, speculating that his friends are being led into temptation to protect it due to its power.
Page 21: Below ground, Willow seems like maybe she's enraptured by The Seed's power. She's at least in magical contact with it as she casts a spell to help The Master guard it from harm.
Commentary: I don't know if this is deliberate, but Willow seems far more concerned about the Scoobies (particularly Buffy) destroying The Seed than she is about Twilightverse getting ahold of it. Ever since her conversation with Aluwyn, her desire to protect The Seed from harm rather than making sure the Big Bad doesn't actually use it has been in almost all of her dialog. Could Willow also be subliminally influenced by The Seed's desire to join Twilightverse? Could she still be Buffy's betrayer (and leading to Dark Willow in the future) as Buffy asked her in 'Anywhere But Here'?
Page 22: At the entry point to The Seed's cavern, Buffy and Spike are surrounded by bodies. They run into a mega-demon, but it is suddenly and violently burst apart.
Page 23: But, this wasn't part of Willow's spellworks. It is the return of Angel to Buffy. She's pleased to see him. Spike is less so.
Page 24: Well, Buffy was pleased until Angel punches her into a wall hard enough to splinter rock and gives her a whomping bloody nose. Spike, for whatever reason, immediately proclaims it's Angelus.
Angel corrects him. It's Twilight.
Commentary: Yeah, with everything going on and Spike's insider information I'm having trouble with following his "Angelus!" exclamation. That was just weird.
The Good: It doesn't impact scoring, but the artwork is being given another kudo.
I really like Twilight-Manticore and his personality.
I'm enjoying immensely not being so lost... whether my speculations have merit or not, at least I'm not just sitting here with a blank look on my face.
The Master looks fabulous, and he's been written well.
The Bad: Not a thing this time out.
Other Thoughts: Spike's Bug-Aliens could have had more to do... when they are shown, it's to be easily overpowered through clumsiness. I would have liked to have seen them in some background panels kicking butt.
Also, the switching around of who-is-on-whose-side at this moment was nearly hard to keep up with... but only nearly.
The Score: I really liked this issue a lot, and it makes me almost enjoy the whole Angel-as-Twilight arc. The entire season is coming into some sort of focus and we've got real answers now, which helps immensely.
4.0 out of 5