Buffy, The Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 01
"New Rules" part I
Written: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Color: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft's) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: After saving the world from Slayer-turned-supervampire Simone, and restoring magic and the life of her magically created sister Dawn, Buffy is in the best place she's ever been. There is a little weirdness going on, with the Slayer handbook's pages suddenly being blank... But she's back together with Willow, Xander, and Spike, doing what she was meant to do as the chosen one: slay vampires.
Page 01: We open in Billy's home town of Santa Rosita where it has been overrun by the zompires. Zompires which are quickly falling before the Slayer's Scythe.
Buffy thinks in voiceover while fighting that without the mad boyfriends turned gods and the crisis and the apocalypses, things are feeling nearly nostalgic. Part of this is the setting: small California town being menaced by vampires... it's old home week.
But Buffy also recognizes that nostalgia can make one too comfortable, and things can suddenly get dangerous. One of Giles' books had a repeating motif that one cannot go home again. The reminder comes in the form of a young girl vampire who snatches the stake right out of Buffy's hand and is obvs no mere zompire.
Commentary: I absolutely love this opening. Putting aside the conceit that in the midst of battle a character can drone on and on for paragraphs of interspection, anyway. But Buffy's feeling good again has been so long in the offing that this just feels wonderful. I also like her new comic book design with the new short hair - but I especially like the more adult clothing she's styling.
I would like one thing cleared up this season though: Is the Scythe now only Buffy's because Willow created it, or is it still carrying the Slayer-charm and technically belongs in the hands of any of them? If the latter, it should really be Faith's, shouldn't it? She was the actual Slayer-in-line at the end of S7, though it seems to have been forgotten as soon as Buffy was resurrected in S6. It'd be nice if there was a three-issue story dealing with the other Slayer's feeling that Buffy is hogging what is rightfully all of theirs.
Page 02: Shockingly, the new vampire lashes out at the zompires and not at Buffy. She tells her that she's got the Slayer's back.
Things change, indeed.
Commentary: She is, however, not stylin'... don't wear striped leggings under a skirt if you're older than 12. See, you get more than just dry reviews here at harsens-rob's.
Page 03: As the zompires on this street corner are finished off, Vampire Girl gives a sarcastic "You're Welcome" to Buffy who counters that they're not suddenly BFF's. Buffy tells her that once the zompire threat is taken care of - and now that magic is back, they're a done deal as far as their dwindling numbers not being refreshed - she intends to go back to tradition.
Vampire-Girl (Vicki) snarks about Buffy's tradition being laying vampires and tells her she's just not that into her.
Buffy takes exception, and Vampire-Girl tosses the stake away and tells the Slayer to bring it.
Page 04: But Spike was approaching from behind Vampire-Girl and he snatches her stake from mid-air. He informs her that more of her pals are fighting a few blocks over and she should help them out, while he also distracts Buffy with news that Willow's got some civilians coming in.
Buffy apologizes for being mean girl to their "allies", but she also tells him that she knows she's going to have to stake her after the zompires are gone and she doesn't want to feel like a backstabber when the time comes. Spike agrees that the vampires are gonna turn on them the moment the zompires aren't crowding their territory. He also says that he isn't going to lose any sleep over wiping them out, either.
Commentary: I like the conversation between Buffy and Spike here because they're not angsting but also because it really brushes up against how complicated relations between humanity and vampires have become thanks to Harmony's reality show and the citizens of Los Angeles being aware of Angel's undead status and giving the vamps a lot more exposure.
Things have changed, once again, but they're not resorting to status quo and that's a good thing.
Page 05: A pick up is called for Willow's evacuees. This is in the form of Andrew and Dawn running an escape van to outside of a quarantine border. Magic mentions that she can't just magic everyone out because she's doing all she can to keep the zompires sealed in and this new magic of her is so raw she's having trouble controlling it.
Page 06: Willow reports incoming zompires and starts laying down suppressing fire, but she's not able to stop them from slipping past her. Buffy thought-bubbles that she's worried about her. Willow has been exhausting herself because everyone is still expecting her to be super-witch and the new magic isn't that cooperative.
Spike and Buffy are riding on a ramp of stakes on the back of the van and lash out at the ones who continue past Willow in an attempt to get to the van.
Meanwhile, Dawn tells the two passengers that she's learned to drive in these conditions and it's not to worry. One of the kids notes that Spike looks like a vampire. Andrew steps in to assure them that Spike is on their side... by fanboying about his nobility until he and both preteen girls are in full on sigh-mode.
Commentary: Andrew is still Andrew, but this bit with the potted history of Spike told in florid, over-romanticized prose was both funny and probably a slight tweak toward the fandom fangirls/boys as well. And I'd rather that he be infatuated with Spike, than with Edward.
Page 07: Buffy goes on to think about her and Spike's relationship and how it's so much better now that they've put the past in the past and can see each other with a bit more maturity. Spike helps Buffy fight off the zompires hanging onto the back of the van by swinging her out into space so she can fly-kick/Scythe-swing at them.
Commentary: Oh, my goodness! Have half of my prayers been answered... are they done with the on-again/off-again with at least one of the vampires?!
And if we presume that she and Angel are definitely off full time now, does that mean Buffy can really move on?!?
I'm so afraid to get my hopes up that the Spuffy/Bangel is finally over.
Page 08: Willow flies up to tell them that their ploy to draw all of the mindless zompires out into the open worked... YAY! But, they're also all on their butts... Oops!
Spike shouts to Dawn she needs to call up Xander and clue him in on what is coming his way, which Dawn does. But there is something in the Xawn relationship that is off kilter. Buffy thinks to herself that she doesn't like the way their on eggshells with one another; It's a little too similar to Hank and Joyce before the fighting came out into the open.
Page 09: At a mart, Xander starts fiddling around with a generator and some tanning beds that have been laid out in the parking lot. He shares off screen that ever since Dawn was saved from vanishing, she's been acting weirder than usual. He's afraid that she is still holding his betrayal against Buffy to join Simone and Sev briefly against him, even though both her and Buffy say that they've forgiven him.
He wonders if Dawn is having doubts about them, but doesn't want to say so aloud. Whoever Xan is talking to, she tells him that is something he'd know all about.
Page 10: We see that the person Xan is talking to is a transparent, ghostly Anya. She's generally snarky with Xan and tells him that her appearance is probably a sign of mental illness or a brain tumor on his part. He tries to get her to go away so he can focus on saving his relationship with Dawn, but that only annoys her.
Commentary: So, what do you think? Xan cracking under the strain, finally... or is Anya really there? Or is it a third option?
I'm hoping it is her, having been too vengeancy to access Heaven and too heroic at the end to deserve Hell. On the other hand, I'm not sure what they can really do with her. I kinda have to think that she's one character that should've been left to dead-dead.
Page 11: Dawn drives the van between the tanning-beds and the ultraviolet rays do their job on the zompires still clinging to the truck. Spike complains about how close they came to cinging him.
In the meantime, Billy, Devon and Anaheed rush out to escort the newcomers to the evacuation gate out of Willow's field.
Page 12: Andrew complains to Dawn that he's envious of Billy for embracing the life he wanted to live and being accepted for it. Dawn assures him he could do the same thing and of course they'd accept him wholeheartedly. Andy excitedly asks Dawn if he could really be a Slayer... which uh, yeah, totally what Dawn meant... yeah.
Meanwhile, Willow, Spike and Buffy are continuing to battle the brainless. They're joined by the soulless, but not mindless vamps. Vicki complains to her that she keeps insulting her when she's trying to help her wipe out the zompire menace. Buffy evinces surprise that she really does hate them, but Vicki tells her that they'll breed out of control and use up resources like a plague.
They're still not BFF's, though.
Page 13: After forty minutes, the last of the zompires are dusted just in time for dawn. Buffy sends Spike to the shadows, while telling Vicki that she sorta kept the fight going a bit longer than it should've because she already expected the vampires to turn on them as soon as the zompire-situation was squared.
She further tells Vicki that now would be a good time for them to retreat to the hovels for the day, as she's just not in the mood to dust her allies so close to their alliance.
Page 14: Imagine Buffy's surprise when none of the vampires retreat, and none of them dust in the morning light! Vicki offers she's so in love with the surprise look on Buffy's face, she wants to carve it off her skull and turn it into a pillow.
But Buffy has been fighting a bit too long to be taken by surprise over one a little shock. When Vicki charges her, she gives her a hard kick to the chest. But things aren't only weird with the sunlight, alas.
Buffy stakes another of the vampires, only to find that it has zero effect. Vicki highlights that things have changed.
Page 15: The Slayer tells her they're not that different as she hammers the spike in with the Scythe, dusting the anony-vampire.
But Vicki counters that they're different enough, as she shows off fancy shape shifting powers along with her group.
Spike notes this from inside the store and decides to rush out and help Buffy deal with these suddenly very much dangerous vampires, but finds that he's not on the receiving end of the new powers -- his hand burns in the sunlight, putting him out of the fight... at least as long as they're in the lot.
Commentary: I'm on the fence about the vampires suddenly being more in line with the Dracula-mythos. On the one hand, I liked that vampires were the grumpy guys with bad teeth that the gang could take with a grain of salt these days. But on the other, and looking ahead a bit, I liked the way that they deal with this change and the arc that we're exploring as it's all tied to Willow's chaotic magic that she brought back with her.
So, although I'm reserving the right to change my opinion and kvetch and bitch about it later, right now I'm generally positive.
Page 16: As the gang try to get a grip on what has happened, Willow pleads with Dawn, Andy and Xander to get inside with Spike, where he can try to protect them. Xan takes it as an insult that she doesn't think he can fight off a few vampires, but Andy recognizes there has been a fundamental shift in the rules.
Willow also confirms this by shouting that the vampires' shape shifting isn't related to Dracula's powers, but is something new. Further, these vampires strength has grown, in addition to being harder to stake. In fact, only four of them are able to batter Willow's mystic shield apart, causing it to collapse from around her!
Page 17: In the store, the gang isn't about to put up with being sidelined. Dawn tells the others she has a one-time limit on her sister dying to protect her and starting loading up the crossbow from the bag we've seen her hauling around in her panels.
Spike is quick to agree and starts ordering Andrew to strip off his shirt to use as wicks for Molotov Cocktails using the liquor around them.
Spike tells Xan that if things go badly, he's tasks with getting Dawn out. Xander frowns that he was going to say the same thing to Spike [ignore that Spike is trapped in the store, so that wouldn't work I guess].
Dawn interrupts to remind them that she's standing right there, and further she doesn't intend to cut and run anyway.
Commentary: Hey, remember when Dawn had shown a glimmer of being proactive in S7? Yay to the Dawn grabbing the Scooby reins!
Page 18: Outside, Buffy beheads one shifter just as he's rematerializing but another behind her in wolf form bites into her arm.
She berates herself for marching her gang stupidly and arrogantly into a hot zone and getting them all killed. Meanwhile, Xan, Andy and Dawn rush out into the lot to join Buffy, while Spike is stuck throwing cocktails from inside the store.
Buffy notices and isn't pleased with the attempted assist. She orders Willow to retreat and take the others. Dawn objects that they can win this, but Buffy thinks they're out maneuvered and outpowered. She intends to guard their retreat on her own. Buffy tells Dawn they're not enough to overcome these odds and there isn't a calvary.
Commentary: Hmmm. I know they're trying to suggest that vampires just got more super-powered, but Buffy and Willow seems to be doing awfully well [one collapsed shield and one arm bit, notwithstanding] for this sudden attempt at a downer ending. Rebekah would've done better to open up the panels a little so that we could see more evidence of the vampires' greater numbers and shown them in flanking positions and closing in around our group in wave after wave.
It may have been deliberate, because this first issue has been on a lighter side after the drama with Simone and Dawn's threatened existence, but the way it's depicted Buffy's panic is still feeling a bit overblown.
Page 19: Because in entertainment media, a surprise rescue is only the right line away: Buffy's attacker behind her suddenly finds itself without a head.
This turns out to be from the timely arrival of Faith... and she's not alone. Kennedy has arrived as well with Deepscan Slayers Holly (who we're just seeing, I think) and Leah (she of the long red hair and brogue).
As Willow deals with the arrival of her ex, someone off panel starts tossing around spells.
Commentary: I am loving Faith's new look and she MUST keep the twin scimitars going forward!
Page 20: It's Harry Potter!! No, wait, it's just the resurrected Giles.
At first of course, Buffy and Willow aren't in the know and they complain at Faith for bringing a kid into a battle zone but when Giles snarks at Wills for her "spells in dead languages" comment, they're quickly brought up to stunned speed.
Commentary: And I've talked about my mixed feelings on bringing Giles back from the dead in Angel's title already. Suffice to say, feelings mixed.
Page 21: With the Deepscan Slayers and Giles' advanced magical ability, they're able to turn the tide. Buffy and Rupert manage to fight their way toward one another and end up running into each others' arms, where both are unabashedly bawling their eyes out [figuratively, not the usual Buffy-horrific way].
Commentary: I loved this page due to the no dialog approach and the way that they run into each other's grasp. Rebekah did a remarkable job on Buffy's face as she throws her arms [including the wounded one, which wasn't forgotten] around mini-Giles.
Page 22: Buffy comments on how little Rupert got, he short hands "Angel. Faith. Rather a long story."
Faith butts in to remind them that the rest of them are still a little busy. Buffy glares at the new vampires with a grin and tells everyone that it sucks to be the vampires....
The Good:I like that we're opening right where we left off in Santa Rosita, in the thick of things.
I am overjoyed to see Buffy in a good emotional place -- it has been far too long since we've seen actual joy on her face. A lot of this is the great place that Buffy is in where it concerns the her and Spike thing.
I also like the feeling of the Scooby Gang being together again, though a bit different with Andrew and Dawn playing a greater role than ever in Buffy's intimate circle.
I liked how Rupert is reintroduced to Buffy in the midst of battle... because, of course.
I really like the new look for Buffy and the cool uniform and awesome blades of Faith.
The Bad: I haven't anything to shove into the bad.
Other Thoughts: I'm more iffy than positive on the Xan/Dawn situation and about how Anya is suddenly back in either ghostly or Xan-imagination form. I can do with Xan/Dawn being a done thing - I was never going to be into that, but as I've stated multiple times before I really like it when the dead stay dead and I can't see a specific reason for Anya's inclusion several years after her death.
I'm also going to put the New Rules here: The vampires are more of the classic style now and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I liked that Buffy and Faith had one enemy they could breeze through and that even the regular Scoobies had enough experience to help out against. That seems to have rather suddenly changed.
One small thing that bugged just a tiny bit: After making Billy seem like a major character with his own Buffy arc introduction, he hasn't really done much of anything. THIS would seem to be the place and time to really spotlight the way he interacts with the Scooby Gang and Buffy and to show us how he's advanced as a fighter/monster hunter. It'd be interesting if Giles stays to see if they plan on having Devon as a student of Giles in the art of Watcherhood.
The Score: This was an enjoyable start to Season 10, and I really liked the tonal shift to something more fun and breezy, despite the sudden escalation of the vampire threat and the ongoing issues with Xan's helping Simone and Severin. Since they did bring back Giles, anyway, I'm glad that they didn't have him stay away from Buffy and I liked the way that their meeting was written, and especially drawn.
3.75 out of 5 stars