Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Freefall, Part Three"
Script: Andrew Chambliss, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Dexter Vines, Colors: Michelle Madsen, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: 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 ahs always done...
She is the Slayer.
Page 01: We open in the alley with Buffy, strange guy with powers, and a lot of formerly vampire corpses (which don't dust). Buffy is taken aback, naturally. Strange Guy insists that he doesn't know how he's able to render the vampires inert and was hoping that, being the Slayer, she could help him find out.
Page 02: Strange Guy introduces himself as Severin once Buffy and he retreat to a nearby roof. The police are still looking for Buffy as a suspect in the bodies being left all over the city and she wants to avoid legal entanglements until she can understand what is going on. She tells 'Sev' that if he wants to help her, he can give her a hiding place for the night.
This seems fair since she's getting pinned for the bodies that he's creating.
Page 03: Meanwhile, Dowling and Cheung have gone to Buffy's apartment to speak to her. Roommate Anaheed claims not to have seen Buffy in several days and directs them to Dawn's place.
Dowling gives Anaheed a business card, which leaves her non-plussed at the sight of 'Homicide' on it.
Page 04: Meanwhile, Meanwhile - Spike is canvassing San Francisco for the identity of who is after Buffy. He has dropped in on a little imp. Using Vamp!Face and Scary!Voice he interrogates the Imp. Apparently, any new supernaturals coming into the city usually stop at this guy's place to find lodging appropriate to non-human looking beings.
The Imp tries to warn off Spike that he's going to get himself killed, but Spike reminds the guy that he'll be dead before that happens if he doesn't start pouring out some answers.
Commentary: I really liked this page. Spike is looking all vampirey, the imp is a babbling real estate salesman and the artwork is great. Spike does bring up a point though that I would like to see explored much more. He tells the Imp that when he kills him, he won't be going on to some "cushy hell dimension" due to the severing of connections with the Seed's demise.
So -- what exactly is happening to all of these beings' spirits when they die? And is the heavenly dimensions closed off as well? What is happening to people who've died since the Seed's destruction? Angel suggests that dead people still go where they're meant, but it doesn't seem likely he can know that, rather than simply stating it because he wants to believe it is true.
And, are the drained vampires of Severin not combusting because the human souls that are in limbo while the vampire is wearing their bodies still stuck where they are? Or were they freed maybe as soon as the Seed was shattered? In fact, evidence of the soul being in a limbo was really kinda guess work based on Liam being resummoned to enter the Orb of Thesullah and restored to Angelus -- but as of S6 of Buffy, it would appear that Willow successfully summoned her from Heaven. So, it is certainly possible that Liam had always been summoned from Heaven as well, when I thought he was being summoned from Limbo.
Huh. Damn this whole soul business in the Buffyverse -- it is all so confusing. But anyway, back to the story.
Page 05: The Imp is unable to provide a name to Spike. But, he can direct him to where he suggested he stay -- this is Alcatraz Island. And, the guy referred is someone we've met: The formerly imprisoned warrior with the glowing blades.
He's currently in his 'cell' on the island, complaining that Buffy is becoming harder to find.
Page 06: The following morning, Buffy wakes up at Sev's place. He lives in a spectacular penthouse as a trust-fund kid. Buffy questions as to why he'd be risking the posh life by playing exorcist to the creatures of the night. Severin admits that he didn't start out wanting to kill the vampires, but rather he was trying to become one.
Buffy takes this without drama. She's met too many kids wanting to jump on the With-Fangs bandwagon at this point.
Page 07: Severin shares his backstory with Buffy involving his girlfriend, Clare. She wanted to take the plunge and become an undead. She searched clubs, bars, etc. until she ran into - coincidentally - a high school friend of hers. She reconnected with Alessandra, who she planned to have sire her so that she in turn could sire Severin.
He was nervous about it and wasn't sure he wanted to go along, but Clare wanted to be with him forever.
Page 08: They proceeded with Clare's plan despite his own reservations. But, he found Clare so different when she 'woke up'...
Page 09: Clare woke up, not as one of the human-sort vampires in the clubs and bars. She was little more than an animal without any sign of recognition of him. She attacked him brutally despite his attempts to reach her emotionally.
Page 10: Severin reacted with panic, as you'd expect. But rather than just shouting no, and then dying, he activated his mutant powers and drained whatever was making Clare a vampire. He saw her revert to human. But as a human, she was dead, and so dead she became post-suckage.
Sev tells Buffy he still has no idea how he was able to do what he did.
Page 11: Sev has been on a crusade since that night to kill vampires that are still trying to turn people and to drain those turned feral. With Buffy asking when Clare was turned, she puts together that the mindless vamps started turning up right after the Seed was destroyed.
Great. Another thing for Buffy to feel guilty about.
Page 12: Across town, our detectives are talking to Dawn and Xander about her sister. Both claim they haven't seen Buffy in days, either.
Detective Cheung is suspicious because of the obviously made up sofa, but Xan informs her it is for him. Which the detectives can buy as Dawn and Xan start an argument in front of them over Dawn's upcoming birthday, which she claims he completely forgot, but which he claims he hasn't forgotten because it hasn't arrived yet, but which she claims he did forget because he hasn't even started to plan something in advance which he calls an entirely silly argument to be having.
Dowling hands over a business card and warns it'll be better for Buffy if she turns herself in rather than for them having to find her.
Page 13: Immediately after Dowling and Cheung leave, Dawn receives a Scooby Alert text. Willow, Spike and Andrew are also summoned.
Commentary: I like Spike's trying to stay hidden from the sunlight in a hat and heavy overcoat and still managing to smoke a bit. BUT - it still strikes me as utterly ridiculous that his face wouldn't be burning off in the sunlight. I really hated the bit in S5 where Spike treked across the desert with nothing but a ratty blanket over him and I hate it here. It's ridiculous.
I'm also disturbed that Andrew is working on a robot when he's texted. (I'm not pleased with where this robot is going, either, but that's not relevant for the moment.) The last thing we need is more fun with the sex-bots.
A bit later, at Sev's penthouse, the only ones to show up are Dawn and Xan. Andrew is apparently too busy and Willow, Buffy says, hadn't bothered to text her back.
Commentary: Which, I can't help but be relieved about. At least we don't need to hear Wills guilt-trip Buffy AGAIN about the Seed business.
Page 14: Minutes later, Willow picks up a call from Dawn... well, her phone. It's actually Buffy who tells Willow she used Dawnie's phone because she didn't think she'd pick up otherwise. Which is true, obviously, even though Willow tries the "I'm at work" excuse for not answering before.
Buffy tells Willow that she may have been right about things getting worse, which Willow seems way, way too pleased about. Buffy corrects that she still doesn't think she made the wrong choice about destroying the Seed, but she is now worried about the fallout. Willow decides she'll listen.
Commentary: *Willow*. Grrrrr.
Page 15: The new-ish gang discuss the new, more vicious and drool-y vampires. Willow puts it together pretty quickly that when vampires get created, a demon inhabits them from another dimension. With the Seed having cut Earth off from those dimensions, the new breed of vampires are more like zombie-monsters, than demons.
Xander, very self-pleased, hits on the moniker Zompires.
Sev, in the meantime, tells Buffy that he knows where a nest of new zompires are located. He could take them out with Buffy's help.
Page 16: As Buffy gets ready to roll out, Xander and Dawn continue to disappoint by pointedly not going with her. Not only that, but both state the actual reason they answered the call wasn't about Scooby Business. They just wanted to give her Dowling's card and advise her to call him and work things out before they get worse between her and the police.
Commentary: I'm still conflicted about Dawn and Xander not doing the Scooby biz anymore. I'm more forgiving of their turning their backs on monster fighting than I am with Willow, just because they're not being so obnoxious about it. But, at the same time, they seem to really be withdrawing too much from any sort of Buffy support, and that rankles me.
They don't have to monster hunt/fight anymore, if that is where their minds are at, but they could offer other assistance more readily and when Buffy shows up needing a place to crash for the night, is it really too much to ask that she get it? I don't think it is, and their complete hands-off attitude is bothersome. But on the other, other hand - at least they don't ignore her calls....
Page 17: Having said their piece, Dawn and Xander head back home. Severin tells Buffy that the police aren't going to 'just talk' to her, they'll be looking to lock her up. Meanwhile, Xan insists that with everyone liking the vampires, everything has become different. But, he tells her she should work with them on the zompire problem. Dawn asks her to be careful, so she doesn't end up in jail.
Speaking of jails, Spike has arrived at Alcatraz. He locates a cell in a portion of the prison where the tourists apparently don't go. He also locates evidence of our big, red guy -- but the demon himself isn't there.
Page 18: Oops! Yep, he is! He was clinging above and drops down on Spike with his energy blade ready. He grabs Spike around the throat from behind and tells him that he kills "blood rats" for breathing the same air as him.
Spike reacts though by flipping him over and out into the hallway. He tells him that he wants to know what this guy wants with Buffy. You'd think that laser blade wouldn't care enough to respond, but I guess he's feeling talkative. He tells Spike that Buffy killed the Seed.
Spike tells him that everyone needs to get over it. AMEN, SPIKE!
Page 19: Our Demon waves his blade away and tells Spike that he's misjudged the situation. He claims that he's trying to find Buffy to repay his debt to her.
His story is that his name is Eldre Koh and that he'd been wrongly imprisoned by magic. With Buffy's destroying the Seed, it allowed him to escape and he is honor bound to serve her for his freedom.
Spike goes into Vamp!Face/Scary!Voice again, telling him he's heard too many rumors about Koh wanting to off Buffy for him to buy his story. But, Koh claims that the rumors Spike has heard isn't about him at all. It's actually about The Siphon.
Commentary: You just knew that Sev was going to be a bad guy, didn't you? Of course, I'm not sure I completely buy Koh wanting to join up with Buffy either, except maybe to destroy The Siphon first before moving onto attacking her. But, we'll have to wait and see on that.
Page 20: Spike remains skeptical, but something in Koh's tone is winning him over. Koh tells him that The Siphon is able to drain mystical energy from any source... demon... vampire... even Slayers. He also informs Spike that beings much older than the entire vampire race fears the arrival of The Siphon and it has now come to pass.
Page 21: Meanwhile, Severin - aka The Siphon, is leading Buffy to a warehouse on the wharf.
Buffy is worrying about Sev being able to handle an entire nest of crazed zompires. He assures her that every time he siphons a vampire's energy, he grows stronger.
Page 22: Buffy kicks the warehouse loading door open, but the ravening zompires don't appear to be a problem. They're all already dead and in-animated.
Buffy is shocked by this turn. Severin isn't.
His hands glow with suck-power as he turns on her. Obviously, he's decided that now is the time to suck Buffy dry.
Commentary: Which makes zero sense, of course. He could have done this already while she was lying asleep in his guest bed.
The Good: I liked the explanation for the new breed of zompires and the continuing, unexpected but sorta obvious in hindsight, impacts of the Seed's destruction.
With a little more personality being shown from Koh now, I'm getting interested in him as a character. And, I like the idea (assuming that is where we're being led) of Buffy getting a new team assembled around her as the Scoobies fade into their own lives.
The Bad: I am really annoyed by Buffy and Angel's vampires wandering around in sunlight freely with the most ridiculous explanations for how they're avoiding the sun. It really could not work for more than minutes at a time - not on bright, sunny California days.
Other Thoughts: I'm just starting to really wish Buffy would ignore Willow. The ex-witch's attitude is really grating on me (as I'm sure I've made more than plain).
I'm very happy with Spike having ditched the bugs and becoming a supporting character in this title. For a while there, I was kinda tired of him (through overuse -- I got to feeling the same way about Wolverine during my Marvel Comics days) and it feels good to enjoy his presence again.
I'm liking the zompires, but I think I'd like to see some exploration of the vampire's view on this development. Are there no vampires left that actually want to like their sired (a la -- can we have a Dru/Spike situation where the sire finds her intended lover to be a mindlessly violent zompire instead and how this new development impacts the vampire community)? It would be interesting to see arguments among the vampires over what is happening with their intended siring.
The Score: 3.25 out of 5
Next review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, S9 I4