Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Season 9, Issue 1
"Freefall, Part I"
Script by: Joss Whedon, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Dexter Vines, Colors: Michelle Madsen,
Letters: Richards Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Comicraft)
Cover by: Steve Morris
Blurb: With the destruction of the seed, the fight against Twilight was brought to an end, and magic's connection to our earth was severed. No more Slayers will be chosen. No more Slayer army. No more gang: Buffy's a waitress in San Francisco; Dawn and Xander are attempting normal domesticity; Willow is struggling with the loss of her powers. It's a new(ish) world, but there are still demons and vampires to slay - even as their popularity with the masses continues to grow - and Buffy is on point to do what she has always done...
She is the Slayer.
Page 01: We open with Buffy opening a set of very bloodshot eyes. She's lying on a bed with her head hanging over the foot of it in a room that looks pretty darned trashed.
She's feeling very confused.
Page 02: We're with Buffy, presumably from the night before her current circumstance now. She's getting somebody at the door with a wide grin, bottle of beer in hand wearing a party-do.
Her guests are Dawn and Xander. With Dawn's expression of a desire to snoop, and Buffy's excitement, we can presume that this is a "welcome to my own apartment" party.
Page 03: Xan jokes with Buffy about her finally getting off of his and Dawn's sofa for her own place. We meet Buffy's roommates, a girl named Anaheed and a boy who is 'Tumble'. Dawn seems to immediately bond with Anaheed... or she's just trying to nearly immediately place the relationship between Anaheed and Tumble so she knows if she should be pushing Buffy and he together... I could see either scenario with Dawnie.
Page 04: Buffy next greets Willow, who is with a new woman who will be named Aura. Before we can get any more details about who Aura is and whether Willow is recovering from that case of the resentments toward Buffy for cutting her off from magicks, we return to the present.
Willow greets Buffy in her bedroom, and Buffy's very first reaction is that she and Will tumbled into bed overnight and now she doesn't remember. Willow plays along for a moment, pretending that bedding Buffy was the best night of her life, and she doesn't even recall it. She lets her off the hook a moment later, letting her know that she "snuck out on Aura" and used Buffy's shower on her way into work.
Commentary: At least Willow made it through that her two panels without mentioning that she's not a witch anymore because of what Buffy did. That seems like progress. And the jokey between them doesn't feel like it's being backhandedly insulting like when Willow was talking to Buffy in S8, I40.
Page 05: We find Willow in her bra and panties, explaining why Buffy thought she'd done something while drunk. As Willow continues to get dressed, she tries to give Buffy advice on dealing with her hangover, in a "you deserve this, I kid" way.
Buffy asks why Wills can't just wave away the awful, before realizing that was an 'oops' these days. Willow good naturedly agrees with Buffy that hangovers might be a bit of light Karma, but she seems less spiteful about it than the mentioned 'Last Gleaming, Part V'.
Commentary: So, I do find it interesting that Buffy both jumps to the conclusion that she may have slept with Willow and that there is still tension regarding the magic-less thing, even after 4-months-ish for Wills to make the adjustment. On the first observation, Buffy really seems to have taken her very brief sexual relationship with Satsu to heart and may even see herself and bisexual, still strong preference for men, at this point. I also find it interesting that despite their conversations about their ever sleeping together, Buffy hasn't entirely decided that she would never be with Willow at any point.
It's nice that she and Willow can still banter back and forth about any half-sexual-tension between them and I like Willow's attitude about it.
However, I also can't help but feel this is a fan-gift to the Buffy/Willow shippers without actually doing anything with it. Just take a look at this page with Buffy and Willow on the bed next to one another. Wills is in her underwear and Buffy is implied to have gone to bed naked. Then, in the very next panel, we have Buffy with her tongue hanging out (because it tastes like face -- and why do I think that should be 'ass') while Willow is standing crowded into the panel hiking up her very short skirt over her hips.
To the second point, I at least appreciate that it is Buffy who accidentally brings up the no-witch thing this time rather than another passive-aggressive mention by Willow. On the other hand, the very fact that Willow does throw out the karma-dig, despite the kiss on the forehead, and further mentions everyone else who lost their powers does make me kinda-sorta-wanna call Wills out on getting over it, already. Is it necessary for every scene between Buffy and Willow to mention that Buffy took Willow's access to magic away from her?
Bottom line, I agree with Buffy's decision despite the unintended consequences and it'd be nice if she got more support for that decision now that some time has passed.
Page 06: Elsewhere, we join a police team checking out a girl's body. The two detectives include a rookie named Dowling, who I'll just tell you now is going to become a minor supporting character. His partner, Miranda Cheung, tells him that she has run into the scenario already. She informs him that they won't find any reason for this girl to be dead, and no ID as to her identity. (It's actually possible that we've flashed back to the night before here, as Miranda's dialog carries over into Buffy's party.)
Page 07: At the party of the night before, Riley shows up still married but without Sam (?) but standing with Spike and Andrew. Spike banters a bit with Buffy about her drunken text. It wasn't explicit enough to constitute an actual invite into her apartment. She gives him the invitation, but warns him no bumpy-face.
Page 08: Which wasn't really necessary, apparently, because the very next panel has Spike telling the story about when he went to bite Willow in "The Initiative" only to find that the chip kept him impotent. He and Willow are able to share laughs about it now. That's sweet... or creepy... maybe a bit of both, I can't decide.
Aura seems to spend the whole party on her smartphone (rebound chick, no way she's lasting with Willow). Dawn is haranguing the quiet and withdrawn Tumble as to the origin of his name. Andrew gets caught up with Buffy about his post-Twilight doings, which turns out to have been to organize his Slayers into a disaster relief team because he's become awesome since S6/S7.
Page 09: We rejoin Buffy in the present where she's lazing about trying to get over her hangover. She admits to herself that she still feels guilt over destroying the Seed [even though I keep telling her that she shouldn't], but what is really on her mind is the dread.
We flashback to the party of the night before, where Spike had cornered her to share that "something is coming" in his S1 Angel uselessly-vague-portent-of-doom way.
Elsewhere, we also see a man and a woman (she sitting in a perpetual state of shock, it seems) telling someone off panel that something needs to be dealt with.
Page 10: The 'something' that needs to be dealt with turns out to be... no shock... Buffy, herself. Our POV is clearly a non-human judging by his voice and thumb.
Meanwhile, Buffy has made it into work, but she's been given the day off by the manager because of some sorta something-something that she doesn't remember but apparently he felt she needed to not be there at work the next day.
Commentary: It's not clear if this is more fallout of her drunken party-ness, or if maybe she's had more than one night of drunkenness lately and this is about a separate incident. Clearly though, Buffy seems about as struggling as we've seen her become everytime she isn't focusing on her Slayer duty. There is an impression that her wild party wasn't just a wild-welcome-party, but was more of a out-of-control party.
Page 11: We skip to elsewhere with some of those demon-types who are still active. There is an army surrounding a ball of greenish-fiery-light with heavy chains wrapped around it. One of our demon-types warns that the binds have weakened due to the Seed-shattering. He orders his troops to 'protect the peace' by destroying whoever was being held here.
This, unsurprisingly, fails.
Page 12: From the now-not-binding-ball comes a warrior dude.
Page 13: Meanwhile, oblivious of the coming danger Buffy is trying to remember the night before and what she may have done to cause her boss to give her the day off without a request to do so. She comes up with a flash of everyone in the pool, dressed, and playing chicking with Andrew on her shoulders. She decides that perhaps remembering everything is counter-productive.
Commentary: I do love that her memory includes shouting, "This is fun and responsible!"
Hmmm. I somehow think her memory may be slightly unreliable. :-)
Page 14: Cut back to the night before and her walking Riley back to his van-of-high-techness. She gushes over all of the things she could do, now that running the Slayer Army is done. Riley thinks she may be trying a little desperately to convince herself that she's very happy.
Page 15: Buffy's memories of the night before include a pep talk by Riley, as is his usual task. She also sort of remembers that she may have made a pass at him.
But she pushes that aside for the morning talk with Ana and Tumble.
Page 16: They're basically telling her that her wild-party was cool, so long as it isn't a regular thing since they do have neighbors. They both liked her friends a lot and want to see them much more. She's cool and a hit.
Page 17: That evening, we join a VW van on its way to San Fran. It, unfortunately, holds Simone Doffler who is still a raging bitch. She wants to do something big that will show the other people that the Slayers are still around and still better than they are.
Page 18: Back to the night before: Xan and Buffy take a few minutes alone to talk and it seems that something is preying on Xan's mind, but he won't open up about it.
Dawn is bonding with Ana. Spike is bonding with Tumble.
Page 19: More from the night before, which turned into a "Buffy dances on tables in heels" and "Cops stop by, but end up dancing wildly too" and "More drinking" type party-hardy.
Page 20: The night after the party as Simone is driving toward the city: Buffy is out on patrol despite still feeling icky. Willow has joined her. Spike also joins them, to remind Buffy that he is worried about the rumors she's being targeted. Willow says she has heard the same thing in her circles. Spike, rather meanly, snarks at Willow for her not-useful patrol skills, considering.
Willow pointedly says she was hoping to speak to Buffy alone. Buffy asks if it's about the Seed business... again... and Willow confirms.
Page 21: Willow insists to Buffy that it isn't about blaming her. Buffy points out that it does sound blame-y. Willow accuses her of being projecting-y. Spike starts adding a 'y' at the end of his sentences, just to be snarky.
Willow ignores him to insist to Buffy that the world is damaged by the Seed's absence and they need to find a way to fix what happened (this will be Willow's subplot over in 'Angel & Faith' and her own mini).
But the conversation is interrupted by a scary, demon guy... presumably the one that was not shown on page 10. He tells Buffy it is time for her to pay...
Page 22: Pay HER STUDENT LOAN!
Willow and Spike laugh, Buffy tells us not to say a f#@&ing word.
Commentary: This, yes, was the typical Joss bait-n-swap on a big bad lookin' dude actually wanting something mundane. But, I liked it for all of that to go out on a comical note since we know that Warrior Dude, Dead Girl With No Apparent Cause and Simone are all not going to be a picnic.
The Good: I liked seeing Buffy alums showing up; Especially Riley and Andrew, and I like that both of them are completely fine with the Seed business to act as a counter (with Spike) to Willow's continued snarking about it.
I like both the Dead Girl Mystery shaping up and the return of Simone to directly challenge Buffy.
The Bad: Some of the constant back and forthing in time started to feel unneeded and gimmicky.
Wait, Riley is allowed to drive high tech surveillance vans on his time off to go to parties??
Other Thoughts: Where is Sam Finn and why was her not being present explained?
Isn't Andrew Wells lookin' a bit hunky? Has he been working out?
What was that thing between Buffy and Xander in her room? Am I forgetting something, or is this hinting at a problem between Xan and Dawnie?
The Score: 3.0 outta 5 ... it definitely feels like an arc set-up issue where anything that happens is only hints about things that are going to be happening.
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