Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Apart (of me), pI"
Script: Andrew Chambliss & Scott Allie, Pencils: Cliff Richards, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (Comicraft)
Cover: Phil Noto
Blurb: The end of magic on [E]arth has created, among other obstacles, zompires - mindless vampires who ignore the rules laid down by Harmony that allow humans and vampires to coexist. Willow has left San Francisco, taking Buffy's broken scythe, while Xander and Dawn strive for normalcy and keep their distance from the supernatural. Buffy was recently cleared of suspicion of murder by the SFPD - but now they want her help with the zompires! The Slayer's personal life has gotten weirder than ever, and facing her own problems is more than she can handle...
My Blurb: So: the end of magic on Earth has been an interesting development and I think it's been handled relatively well. Vampires being public has been a bit more hit and miss, as far as actually dealing with how this would have changed the world. The small stories have been well handled, but the overall impact on societies across the world has been completely ignored, which seems like a gross oversight to me. Willow having left is a good thing -- she was being a constant passive-aggressive thorn toward Buffy which was getting on my nerves. I still find the term, "the rules laid down by Harmony", to be hilarious. HARMONY HAS LAID DOWN RULES... AND THEIR BEING FOLLOWED!! I cannot take this without a snort of giggling. As to Buffy's latest personal life woes... well, that is what this issue is about and it's already dealing with a deficit by taking a serious topic of Buffy's unexpected pregnancy and mutating it into a Buffybot program error. WTH, indeed.
Page 01: We open in a bedroom where a boy wakes groggily to the arrival of two humanoid shapes coming in through his window, obscured by bright lights, and his own sleepiness.
Commentary: This is Andrew ... I had no idea. I don't like the way he's drawn on page one. Aiee.
Page 02: Andrew excitedly jumps out of bed, and grabs for his suitcase. He babbles about how he has been waiting for the aliens' arrival to take him away his whole life, and usually he'd be all packed already....
Page 03: Alas for Andrew, this is not his wonder-encounter with space aliens [although considering Spike's friends, he should at least be getting that at any moment]. No, this is an outraged Buffybot missing an arm and a pissy Spike with deep frown lines and a mighty glare.
Commentary: Obviously, as well, Andrew's character is all about the geekdom: We have Star Wars, Transformers, Glee, Lady Gaga, Dark Horse, Spiderman, Batman, Captain America, Avengers and Star Trek all referenced in the detritus around his room, and the shirt he's wearing in bed.
Page 04: While Andrew is trying to convince Buffybot not to pummel him, we skip over to the morgue where Robert is sadly gazing down at his dead partner. Cheung was the victim of the zompires. The coroner is dictating his initial observations. Miranda's attack was savage including punctured throat, severe trauma to the neck bones and heavy internal bleeding into the lungs and abdominal cavity.
Dowling is left angry.
Page 05: In Andrew's bedroom, Buffybot is confronting him over the fact that she's a 'bot at all. Andrew is currently obsessing on the details of what made her take the pregnancy test at all and she explains her symptoms. Andrew's biggest error was that he'd missed creating a period for her, which set her onto wondering why she was late and then with the other symptoms -- the barfy explained by Buffybot's food processing not being perfected -- she took the test.
The pregnancy results in themselves are waved away by being a false positive caused by some component of Buffybot's fake blood, which Andrew has christened "Trueblood".
Commentary: And just as an aside, Andrew actually brings up an example of how the new world should have changed. We should be getting humorous one panel background about "ET's on the set of True Blood, where we'll be dishing with Sookie Stackhouse herself about working with REAL vampires on set... TONIGHT ON ET!"
That sort of thing should be a constant on televisions, radios and conversations around our Scooby Gang. We should be hearing international news reports about vampires trying to receive special status in the U.N. and Harmony on interviews deploring the repressive regimes of the world suppressing vampire-humane rights and demanding that the world condemn these nations for not recognizing peaceful vampires' rights to exist.
There should be statements coming out of the Vatican about this sort of thing -- especially in relation to the other demons who don't pass for human at all. Since DH opened this can of worms a year ago, we should be seeing much more of an impact by now than we get -- even in just isolated throwaway bits just to add flavor to the Scooby Gang's new world.
Oh -- but back to Buffybot, which is the actual point: I'm just not happy about the way this pregnancy thing is being waved off as a Buffybot imperfection -- the fake blood producing a positive result is just too... weird... for me to buy. And, I'm sorta resenting how it makes "Buffy" having to deal with that issue moot. At least we got some really good scenes from it though, so it wasn't completely wasted.
Andrew offers to fix Buffybot's arm... if she doesn't mind having two lefties, but she's more interested in knowing why the hell she's a robot, and she wants to know NOW!
Page 06: Andrew suggests that Spike asked him to help out, which causes a murderous glare in the vampire's direction. He assures
Buffybot that he in no way wanted another sexbot. Andrew agrees that Spike actually asked him to help find out who was targeting Buffy, but when that failed, Andrew initiated a backup plan.
At Buffy's wild party, when we all thought she had just had way too much to drink, he'd actually roofied her.
Page 07: Andrew recounts that Spike had helped her to her bedroom after the roofie/alcohol combo had her spinny-headed, where she mercifully passed out.
Page 08: Andrew watched Spike tuck Buffy in from across the hall with the Buffy robot.
Page 09: After Spike left, he had the Buffybot lay down next to actual Buffy, where he used a mind-transfer device between them. The idea being that Buffybot would be Buffy, serving coffee and general slaying until the assassin after her struck, after which time he'd be able to restore Buffy.
Commentary: Uh... unless of course the Buffybot was completely obliterated by a bomb set in her apartment?? What sort of dumbass plan was this?!? And, oh my god, isn't this a real violation of Buffy herself that she didn't even know that she was wandering around in an artificial body?? And who the hell does Andrew think he is, taking this sort of rash action all on his own?!?
And, plus, isn't this the sort of crap that you'd expect him to have pulled in BTVS: S7, or maybe even in early S8. Isn't this a bit extreme geeky for him to pull on her without her knowledge this late into being a real Scooby and having even been in charge of a Slayer division? This feels like a step backward for the Andrew character and I'm a bit displeased on his behalf.
And how would this make sense now that Buffy isn't a mindless vegetable, somewhere ... or at the very least (assuming the 'transfer' was more of a 'copy') wouldn't she still know she was The Slayer and understand everything that happened??
I bring up this part, because No - She Doesn't - And It's Dumb. They missed an real opportunity for Buffy to have been all in on this plan with Andrew, and her instructing him explicitly not to tell anyone in the gang -- including Spike -- while she laid low and tried to finally put the Slayer behind her in a new 'civilian life' elsewhere. It'd been even better to keep the Buffy is pregnant storyline, with Buffy hiding out and this whole transfer thing happening not the night of the wild party, but after her conversation with Robin Wood. The real Buffy chooses one option: Keeping the baby, and basically going into deep cover, while the Buffybot - struggling with the same choice because of the mind-copying, chose the abortion route.
The story would've needed to have been tweaked a bit, but this would have been a better tale in my opinion. And - it still would have allowed Spike and real-Buffy's emotional confrontation and his going off with the Bug Ship for his limited series by having him be hurt that Buffy wouldn't include him on her plans to just disappear and her admitting that she thought about it, but ultimately decided that she couldn't have a vampire in her life if she was going to seriously try to raise a baby in a non-supernatural environment. I would've really liked to see where they'd go with Buffy being a mother-to-be and how the gang would've reacted when they found out that she'd been prepared to write them all out of her life to stay in hiding with the imposter-bot playing her role.
Needless to say, we'll not be exploring any of this. Deep Bummer.
Also -- Andrew's outfit is giving me flashbacks to the costumer of BTVS: S1 --- I do not forgive you, Andy & Michelle.
Page 10: Buffybot tries to grasp that she's not the Slayer, but Andrew corrects her that she is, since Buffy's mind is within her. He expresses relief that the pregnancy scare is all their dealing with, since he was afraid that she'd come online being permanently drunk.
We also find out that Andrew got the technology from Warren's stash at Twilight HQ, where he surmises Warren had been working on a way to replace his skinned body with a new one.
Spike isn't at all seeing the situation through Andrew's eyes, and shouts in his face about what he'd put her through. Andy expresses that he was trying to help by keeping Buffy's real body safe. Buffy yells at him for not telling her.
Page 11: Andy informs Buffy that witness protection depends on total secrecy. He offers that using his advanced technical powers for good was how he earned a place in the Scooby Gang, but Buffy yells that what he'd done to her without her knowledge is exactly how he screws his place in the gang up.
Spike interrupts that the assassin -- the Siphon -- is currently in hospital full of holes, so they can set things right. Buffy yells at Andrew to tell her where her real body is...
Page 12: ... which would currently be living suburban homemaker dreamhood.
Page 13: While Buffy is snapping a mixing spoon and looking at his questioningly, Buffybot is in a funk and staring out of the Bug Ship at the passing scenery below. She's upset still, and annoyed at Spike for walking on eggshells around her over that whole heart-to-heart they'd been having.
She asks him to say something "stupid. Or needy. Or creepy." to her, which has him rolling his eyes in irritation at her continued insults that she doesn't seem to realize she's making [see her telling him offhandedly that if she was going to leave the Slayerhood behind, he'd be exactly what she'd be running away from -- as he was trying to be super supportive friend].
Page 14: Buffy is upset that she thought she was facing real world problems and she was handling it -- she was making hard choices and being responsible and realistic like real people should be when facing life problems. But now, it turned out that no -- just more Bizarre Slayer Stuff.
She's grateful to him though, for being there for her during her fake problem. It goes a long way to making up for that "say something needy or creepy" thing.
Page 15: Meanwhile Andrew is pestering the Bug Crew (I'm assuming Sebastian) about their non-existent cloaking device, and he refuses to listen when ?Seb tries to tell him he doesn't know what he's talking about.
Spike interrupts with a fang!out and shoving Andrew violently against a console. He again excoriates Andy for the emotional turmoil his stunt caused Buffy and tells him in no uncertain terms that he'd better find a way to fix this or else....
Meantime - down below in Xan's apartment, he calls out to Dawn from the bathroom as he thinks he left his eyepatch in the bedroom.
Page 16: When she doesn't immediately answer, he punches the bathroom tile. She comes into the bathroom and mildly says, "Wow, relax!"
[Which is not exactly my response....]
Before Dawn can ask Xander what the fuck, there is wild ding-donging at the door. This turns out to be Robert Dowling - he's been heavily drinking and is in a state over the dead officers and losing his partner to the zompires.
Page 17: Dawn asks after Buffy, since Dowling was with her and now he's all in this state, but he assures her that other than being a robot, she's fine. Obvs Dawn is all... WAIT, WHAT??
But there's no time to steer the conversation to what he meant by Buffy being a robot, because he's rambling drunkenly about Miranda being killed. And, unfortunately, though he doesn't know it -- he's indicating to Xan and Dawn that Miranda's not just dead.
Page 18: In the morgue, the undead Miranda -- now a zompire -- wakes up and the coroner buys it.
[And, I guess this does address why there are so many zompires -- despite mindlessness, they apparently have an instinct toward creating new zompires rather than just leaving a lot of dead bodies.]
Page 19: Meanwhile, Andrew is in the Bug Ship where he's playing "Captain's Log" and confusing the Bug Crew around him. One of our intrepids also complains that he just keeps talking....
We also find out from Andrew's ramblings that he's in the money to do all of that Buffybot/setting Buffy up in suburbia thing because he'd been busy filing patents on Warren's inventions that his dead ex-friend had totally neglected doing himself.
Spike and Buffybot come onto the bridge, and Andrew proudly tells them that he was able to patch the ship's sensors through to the hidden cameras in Buffy's new home. Buffybot spies on her counterpart living the life that Buffy has always wanted to one extent or another.
Page 20: Andrew is proud of his work, of course. Spike is slightly amused. Buffy is in wonder.
But as they watch, an alarm signal sounds on the bridge.
Page 21: Andrew indicates that they're silent alarms from the house indicating a break-in, designed one supposes to allow Andrew to keep Buffy on is radar [but since he'd been too far away to offer immediate assistance -- this is just dumb].
Spike orders increased speed, while Buffy sips wine and makes brownies totally unprepared for the fact that she's about to get an unannounced visitor.
Page 22: Buffy is startled by a masked woman with a gun, who clobbers her over the head before she can do anything except drop her wine glass.
She's thrown into a familiar van, and when we see the kidnapping woman pull off her ski mask, we're unshocked to learn that it is Simone Doffler... still on her crusade to make Buffy suffer for all sorts of imagined slights and failures.
[It would be seriously cool if they had Andrew kill this bitch. Not just because I'm tired of her psycho-Slayer act, but also it would give Andrew some non-geeky, emotionally dramatic moments. And speaking of Psycho-Slayers -- Can we please get an explanation of what ever became of poor Dana?]
The Good: Uhm. I'm not wild about this issue. It's not as bad as it sounds, it's just mostly "meh".
The Bad: Geek-Andrew was really overdone; it was a step backward for the character after his modest growth in S8.
I do not at all like what the hell they're doing to Xander Harris. I swear, these writers better not destroy my favorite S8 character.
Other Thoughts: So, I'm clearly disappointed by the route they took with this fake-pregnancy/Buffybot business. But even wishing the 'bots would just be forgotten, I wish this was going to be more dramatically satisfying than what they're doing with it.
I do like the interactions between Buffybot and Spike. And, I do like Spike putting the fear of fangs into Andrew but the arc is a letdown, so outside of these few panels I'm just "meh".
Same thing with Cheung and Dowling: I'm just not invested in either character, so I'm not getting any serious feels about her fate or Robert's trauma.
At least they've got Simone to pick things up at the end, but I'm ready for her character to get what's coming to her, too.
The Score: Meh. Meh. And, meh.
2.75 out of 5 stars
Next Up: BTVS, S9, I9