BTVS: Season 9, Issue 10
"Apart (of me), pIII"
Script: Andrew Chambliss & Scott Allie, Pencils: Cliff Richards, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt, 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: I want to give a kudo to the cover. Read Buffy's internal thoughts about herself; It's some good insight.
Page 01: We join Buffybot just coming back online. She's been trussed up and is under the baleful watch of her counterpart, the makeover-ed Suburb!Buffy.
Buffybot comments on how not-kidnapped Suburb-B is looking, to which S-Buf comments that she's been freed.
Page 02: Buffybot tells Suburb!Buffy that her spew doesn't sound authentic, based on what she saw in the suburb house but Suburb!Buffy accuses Buffybot of it being her trap. She accuses her of stashing her mind in a fake body and her body in a fake life, and wonders what her game has been this whole time.
Buffybot points out that this isn't her game, but she's impressed at how fast Suburb!Buffy has figured out what has been going on. Suburb!Buffy is pissed off at Buffybot [who, recall, is the "actual" Buffy since her mind is housed there] for disrespecting her Calling, making Buffybot recall the First Slayer telling her that she wasn't the Slayer anymore in her vision.
Commentary: The only weird thing I want to point out here is Suburb!Buffy giving Buffybot water. Did she think the robot was drymouthed? ROBOT - THIRSTY?
But I do like the explanation of the First Slayer, here. Obviously she was trying to tell Buffy that she wasn't in her own body, in her always-angry way.
Page 03: Suburb!Buffy continues her rant against Buffybot for using her Chosen One status to build herself up more. She rants that Buffybot never wanted the Slayers to be strong on their own, that is was all about making herself stronger by recruiting disciples and then not arming them properly. She accuses Buffybot of being afraid of guns, which clues Buffybot into where Suburb!Buffy has suddenly picked up all of this anti-her rhetoric.
Simone confirms by conveniently returning at that moment.
Page 04: She next goes on to also berate Buffy for her "choice" to ditch her body for a robot model. She informs Buffy about how funny she finds it that she was so afraid at coming right at her to begin with, but as she studied her, she figured out the truth. Simone tells Buffy that she figured out that her power wasn't Slayer power -- in fact, it wasn't mystical in nature at all.
She accuses her of never having cared about all of the girls that she'd tricked into fighting for her, or she'd never had given up her Slayerhood for a cushy suburban life.
Page 05: Buffybot, though, is more interested in hearing more about how Simone knew that her 'powers' weren't mystical, but she's cut off by a punch to the face by Simone.
Buffy turns to Suburban!Buffy and tries to get her to see that she's nothing like Simone, whatever personality she now has.
Simone just finds her trying to change Suburban!Buffy's loyalties laughable.
Commentary: So, I believe what was being hinted at here is a reference back to Simone being partnered with Sev. I think that Buffybot's presence explains why Sev wasn't successful in draining her lifeforce and that Simone nearly blew that she was behind the Sev plot by knowing a little too much about things that Buffy herself wasn't in on.
Also -- I liked the little touch of having petty Simone tapping Buffybot's head with her empty water bottle....
Page 06: Simone also brought with her a tool case, which she now dumps out, planning on doing some mod-work to Buffybot now that Buffy is helpless for her.
Meanwhile, Andrew has snuck into the abandoned town. He's babbling to himself, as he is wont to do, when Spike startles him, having had to take refuge in a shack due to the morning glow in the sky.
Spike points out a crate that Spike found that is filled with guns. It points to a bigger plot going on than just a single kidnapping scheme. He also points out to Andrew that he should look up....
Page 07: And when Andrew does, he clutches at Spike with a panicked yell -- though we don't know why yet, but we do see Spike's very clearly rolling his eyes.
Back in San Fran, Robert is still trying to deal with the aftermath of staking Miranda. He's talking to his Captain, who surprises him by not questioning his actions in destroying Detective Cheung. In fact, he's told that the mayor wants to put together a task force specifically for dealing with the growing zompire problem. It's intimated that the Captain thinks Dowling should head it.
Meanwhile a short distance away, Dawn has retrieved her phone and is trying to return Buffy's call, but of course there isn't an answer since she's ... yes... "tied up"... (Oh, god, how could I?).
Page 08: Back with Suburb!Buffy, Buffybot & Simone, Suburb!Buffy pins Buffybot's hair up so it's out of the way for whatever Simone is thinking of doing with those tools. It appears that she's going to break into Buffybot's head, possibly even decapitate her, in a half-assed attempt to find the "essence" of Buffy within her robot shell.
Thankfully, a warning alarm goes off telling Simone that there are intruders. She orders Suburb!Buffy to stay put and watch Buffybot... and not to listen to anything that she has to say.
Page 09: As soon as Simone is out of the room, Buffybot decides to see how if she can disconnect her robo-arm that Andrew just replaced without its synth-skin. It proves remarkably easy -- which also allows her to then slip her ropes.
Suburb!Buffy teases her about wanting to talk some more, but Buffybot's all, "Nah, I'm fine with the fisticuffs".
Page 10: Elsewhere, that whatever that Andrew panicked about to Spike's annoyance? That was the return of the BugShip to help out. They apparently transported Spike and Andrew to where they've located Suburb!Buffy because they're currently busting through a concrete wall.
Spike, Andrew and a cadre of BugSoldiers invade Simone's lair. But they find her waiting for them, and she opens fire with a submachine gun with Spike taking a shell to the face.
Page 11: Simone follows up Spike's gunshot off his face with a Slayer High Kick, knocking him across the room into a wall. Her follow up assault with that mini machine pistol is blocked by Bugs getting into the line of fire with their armored bodies, allowing Spike and Andrew to avoid getting shot again.
Spike sends Andy off to find Buffy, while he ... amusingly... uses an armored Bug body as a club, with the poor Bug in question loyally calling, "All Hail King Spike!" ... heh-heh.
This allows Spike to disarm the startled Simone.
Commentary: I really liked these two pages, as we get to see Simone being an actual Slayer and not only holding her own against vampire Spike, but actually getting in some nice ass kicking, before her inevitable defeat. I also like her choice of weaponry, considering her personality.
Page 12: Off with Andrew, he locates one armed Buffybot fighting with Suburb!Buffy. Thinking that the bad guys found Buffybot's arm release and has partially disabled her, he grabs a clubbed bat and charges Suburban!Buffy ready to take her out...
Page 13: ... which she easily ducks, but allowing Buffybot to grab her arm and wrestle her to the floor. Buffybot reminds Andy that he tried to club her actual body in the head with a "Warriors'" bat. She suggests just making her body listen to reason.
Meanwhile, Simone is having a ball with killing and maiming Spike's BugCrew. But when she gives Sebastian a wicked kick to the underside of his jaw, Spike has had enough of her ass.
Page 14: Spike charges Simone, but she's standing next to a crate and easily snaps off a stake. Spike tough guys that he thought he'd killed his last Slayer, and she responds that he has... and so has Buffy. She leaps onto Spike, during his charge, throwing off his game and manages to stake him, even... but on the wrong side and into his shoulder.
It's enough for her to leap out of his grasp again, and retrieve her dropped machine gun -- she sure does like that thing. And one can see why, as she sprays the whole room down in bullets. Something not welcomed by the arriving Andrew, Buffybot and Suburb!Buffy.
Suburb shouts at Simone for being a liar, so apparently Andrew and Buffybot was able to convince her they were on the right side and that Simone was using Suburb!Buffy for her own ends.
Commentary: Again, I'm really liking these fight scenes with Simone, because she's being treated like a Slayer here. Spike was way too overconfident by charging her like that, and it's only the fact that her own body is in the way due to leaping onto his chest, that she wasn't in the position to stake him through the heart. That's two clear injuries she's managed to inflict on him.
Page 15: With bullets flying around, everyone dodges and ducks. Buffybot takes one to the chest, which Spike reacts to as if she were still flesh and blood, until she reminds him that her robot body isn't going to be taken down by a bullet. At the same time as Buffybot was getting shot, Suburb!Buffy was throwing herself on top of Andrew. They both manage to avoid getting hit.
When the dust clears, everyone finds Simone has taken off again. Suburb!Buffy knows enough of her plans that she opines she'd head back to San Fran for a backup plan, but she doesn't know the details of this backup.
Commentary: My idea (which future!me confirmed so minor future!spoiler) [Spoiler -- a minor one ]was that she was going back to Severin to help him heal after all -- and risking him simply draining her dry. That seems much too dangerous, but then Simone's teaming up with him in the first place struck me as silly before attempting the whole "bomb in her apartment, sharpshoot her as she's in the coffee shop" plan.
What I really like too, is Buffy acknowledging that Simone is a good Slayer, despite being a psycho-bitch, when she calls off Spike from going after her. And, I spot another bloody wound on Spike in his arm -- so that's three for Simone, zero for Spike.
Page 16: Back in San Fran, Dowling has defied Captain's orders to take the day off and come into the squad room where he's given the side eye by his fellow detectives and officers. The Captain expresses that they're all just not sure they could have done what was needed in the same circumstances, which Robert states he understands. But, he's also come to resign in order to do more of the sort of 'vigilante actions' of Buffy's crew against the zompire threat.
Captain pulls Robert into his office, and tells him that he's already aware of the good Buffy has been doing... and that's exactly what he wants to talk to him about, before he makes any decisions about turning in his resignation....
Page 17: Elsewhere, Spike has delivered Buffybot, Andrew and Suburban!Buffy to a rooftop. Buffybot complains she's going to be there fighting alone, intimating that she needs Spike. But, he's still reeling from the emotional rollercoaster of Buffy saying on one hand that she'd think about running away with him and also stating that he'd be the very thing she was running from if she was going to hide away with her hypothetical baby.
He asks her to just stop thinking and run away with him now (or, once she's reunited with her real body).
Page 18: Spike expresses that Buffy doesn't have anything to stay for, really, excepting more complications. [There is also a hint here that I only get in retrospect [Spoiler of future development.]of future developments regarding Dawnie and the loss of magic in the world.]
He tells Buffy he's tired of lurking around the edge of her life waiting for her to need somebody to lean on again. Buffy suggests using Simone as an excuse to stay awhile to him, but he complains all he ever does is find excuses to stay in this holding pattern.
Page 19: Spike tells Buffy straight up that he loves her, but also states he can't wait around anymore on her to make up her mind about what she wants, either.
[Plus, there is that whole adventure he's got to run off to.]
He decides that they both need some space and leaves with the BugShip.
Page 20: In Andy's lab, Buffybot expresses that maybe Andrew should just fix her up as is. She admires Suburb!Buffy's making a regular life work and offers that she could go on slaying vampires with her new robot body while Suburb gets to have the husband and kids.
Suburb!Buffy points out that she is awake, while she's being talked about. Buffybot points out she's fighting for her. Suburb isn't impressed -- Andrew's life that he set up, despite being impeccably styled, was fake.
Page 21: She goes on to tell Buffy that even though she didn't know what was wrong, she felt it. Now that Simone's awoken the Slayer within her, she offers that she'll never be able to go back to that safe, false life again anyway.
She also states that she can't be complete without all of her being merged in one body again. Buffy sighs that she'll never have the domestic life, but Suburb tells her she'll have it someday, when she's built it with her own two hands.
Page 22: Re-integrated Buffy returns to the coffee shop, where she banters a bit with her way-too laid back boss. But when he hands her a business card from Kennedy asking her to call her about a job, Buffy decides to quit slinging coffee and rolls and to try something that she can excel in... which will be our next arc.
The Good: I really liked the Simone panels during her battling (and having a ball) with Spike and his BugArmy.
I also like Spike taking some positive steps to force Buffy to figure out what she wants without his hanging around as her on-again, off-again crutch. It's better for his character, and -- as I constantly state until you're all sick of hearing it -- the creative team need to make a decision or do what they did here, send him off on his own for awhile.
The Bad: Minor, but I don't buy how quickly Buffybot convinces Suburb!Buffy to turn on Simone.
Other Thoughts: I'm also less than comfortable about Buffybot and Suburb!Buffy recombining so easily without any real angst about the fact that Suburb!Buffy seemed to have developed her own mind and life with the tools that Andy gave her. It felt way too easy and convenient for Suburb!Buffy to decide that she wanted the recombination too without nary a thought about it. Plus, it may have been interesting for Buffy to have herself to talk to and depend on by having them separated for a while ... it feels like a missed opportunity to me. Which, I guess actually fits the my general feeling about this whole arc. A series of missed opportunities.
There are some points where Andrew's need to geek is still being played a bit too heavy-handedly for me.
The Score: I'm pretty meh about this arc, but I did really like the action scenes.
3.25 out of 5 stars
Next Up: BTVS, S2 - "Becoming" parts I and II