Buffy The Vampire Slayer
(Season 10, Issue 06)
“I Wish” part I
Writer: Christos Gage, Artists: Karl Moline & Cliff Richards, Inker: Andy Owens, Colorist: Dan Jackson, Letterers: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft’s) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: The rules of magic are literally being rewritten. With day-walking vampires and a male Slayer, Buffy & Co. are trying to keep the weirdness under control. Willow is focused on learning the new rules, while Giles is coming to terms with his newfound youth, and Xander is trying to save his relationship with Dawn. Still, Buffy has her family together again - and since their mission doesn’t yet feature Apocalypse spelled out in big letters, life is pretty good…
Page 01: Buffy stumbles out of her bedroom in the apartment she shared with Anaheed and Tumble. He’s still there, but she has moved out now that her ‘bodyguard Buffy’ self-assignment is no longer necessary… plus, she’s stayed on in Santa Rosita to help Billy and Devon.
In order to make the rent, Tumble brought in two new roommates: Brandon and Brody. Earlier morning partier-types, which won’t work with Buffy’s schedule. She gives notice that she’s moving out as well.
Page 02: Sometime later, Buffy has dropped in on her sister. Dawn has also decided to move out of her and Xander’s place for one of her own. Buffy is appalled at Dawn’s putting in notice with their landlord before having a new place lined up… kinda what she just did in fact, only to find out just how expensive it is to live in San Fran.
Dawn offers that she can’t live with Xan while they’re working on their relationship and they both need to downgrade. Xander is, moments later, also shocked at the pricing.
Everyone turns to Giles, but he’s not able to access his personal wealth at the moment on the count of being a resurrected, legally dead, middle aged librarian in a teen body.
Page 03: Also visiting Dawn, Xander and Giles at the former’s place is Andy. He also comments on the unwise plan of everyone giving notices before securing a new place. He offers Buffy his futon, but she points out the last time she fell unconscious around him, she wound up a robot who thought she was pregnant. He apologizes again.
In the meantime, Giles has to leave to meet Willow. She and Dowling are working on building a digital trail to prove Giles’ “supernatural alteration” claim.
Commentary: YES! This is pretty sweet, because it’s not just Angel & Faith who is keeping tabs on what is happening over in their sister book. We have two way communication with the teams here, as Giles’ comment can be related directly to Magic Town’s residents in London. He also mentions seeking help from Riley, but he’s not reachable at the moment due to a top secret mission: A mission that we’re actually hearing about right now over in Angel & Faith!
Continuity… oh, I love thee. Probably too much; you… uh… maybe want to consider a restraining order.
Page 04: Out walking toward their meeting with Dowling, Willow also comments on the bad plan of giving notice before finding new places to live. She mentions her own problem with being unemployed and looking at homelessness soon if something doesn’t turn up. Rupert mentions Buffy telling him about Will’s grown up job, but she was let go during her cross-dimensional jaunt for not bothering to get the time off approved.
She also talks to him about their discussed plan to age him up. Rupert says he’s had enough of being mystically manipulated, which is good, because Willow tells him if they messed it up, it could unravel his resurrection and end up with him dead. He blows off the concern about his current state, which she buys, but we can see his face and he’s clearly bothered by his lack of standing that his adult enjoyed.
Commentary: I like that we’re getting some cameo mentions of the dayplayers and sort of wrapping things up with them so we can get a fresh start for this new season going forward. Tumble was okay, and Dowling is alright but Anaheed and Billy aren’t really needed so it’s nice that they’ve got something to do somewhere else.
I’m assuming that Robert will continue having a small role in things, and that’s cool… I’m just glad he and Buffy aren’t going to be a thing.
I also like that they addressed the subject of Willow just using the new magic to return Rupert to normal with an explanation of the danger to make it sensible that he wouldn’t try.
The everybody needs to move at the same time is a bit too much -- and is obviously setting up a group living situation. Other than the really small joke about everybody giving notice to their respective landlords without knowing where they’re going, this does seem a bit too drawn out.
Page 05: In a local pub, Dowling explains the problems of trying to get the courts to accept proof that one person could now be so radically altered and how the law is going to handle something like this within its framework. For the moment, Rupert is going to have to be patient with getting his identity back.
But Dowling tells them that he can assist with an apartment idea. He knows of a haunted building, but his supernatural crimes department has it on the back burner because no lives are stake. He suggests that if they can rid of the haunting, they could maneuver that into reasonable rents from the landlord.
Page 06: The gang meet up with the building’s owner… an unpleasant woman, but one who will rent to them at a discount if they can clear her inherited building. She’s adamant that no bodies were ever found on her premises, so any mention of serial killers in the building’s past are nasty rumors and innuendo.
Page 07: Spike, Dawn, Rupert and Buffy set up for a ritual cleansing of the building… as if it’ll be that simple.
Dawn asks about Willow, but she’s on a job interview. As it turns out, Spike has been staying with Andrew and so he’s also looking for a new place to crash… before he has to beat Wells to death with one of his action figures.
Commentary: Gee… think everyone is going to end up in a “Friends” situation, all living together?
Page 08: Giles starts the exorcism, but where the gang thought they were just releasing some angry, scared kiddie ghosts - they’re actually attacked by a multi-eyed, tentacled thingie.
Page 09: Buffy complains about the lack of a ghost kid, while Spike is happy to have something to slash at. Rupert tries to tell everyone not to get the ichor on them, but too late. Everyone gets splashed as a tentacle withdraws, a Scooby held fast.
Now, we have Buffy, Dawn, Rupert and Spike… quickly - Which of these Scoobies is abducted?
Commentary: Meh -- trick question. It turns out they’re all abducted, we just happen to see Dawn dragged away in a tentacle.
Page 10: Buffy finds herself suddenly someplace else. From the porch of her house, Dawn yells at her that she’s running late to dinner. Buffy is taken aback.
She goes to comment on how young Dawn looks, but is interrupted by Joyce asking her not to fight with her sister.
Page 11: From the front door, Hank walks out with a plate full of hamburgers. Buffy acts even more confused and Hank tells her that she’s home… they’re all home.
But this home is not a home that Buffy should recognize. For one thing, the houses seem more San Francisco than L.A. or Sunnydale. But for another, across the street, young Giles is running down the block with his airplane. And next door to him, Spike is reading poetry to his mother while she sits on their porch.
Commentary: So, I have to admit that when I saw young Dawn and Joyce, I kinda rolled my eyes for a moment. Another delusion of the past dressed up in Happy Dust wasn’t exactly on my “must see” list, and after all of the times Buffy’s head has been played with I wanted her to immediately see right through it.
But then we get this added dimension of the people she was with also being in a shared reality and that made it more interesting to me… like how they’re all going to react to all of them being there when they couldn’t possibly be under these “pasts”. So, I’m suddenly not annoyed again.
Page 12: Across that street, Giles nearly collides with William. Will mentions that Rupert should have school, but is retorted that no one has to go to school unless they want to. Will is quick to agree and confused that he’d think otherwise.
As Rupert returns home with his Spitfire model, William’s mother asks him to read her more poetry before she goes in for a lie down.
Meanwhile, Buffy comments to Hank that she thought there was something she needed to do. He informs her that her only responsibilities are school and cheerleading, which makes her relieved.
Commentary: Okay, so just a tiny bit disappointed again that Buffy wasn’t “screech… put the brakes on”. But just a tiny bit.
Page 13: Meanwhile, Xander and Willow are on their way with him complaining that no one is picking up their cellphones and he’s worried. Willow goes over some things she gleaned from the old case files Dowling shared.
But though she suspects a specific kind of demon may be involved, Xander hears Dawn’s voice and the tentacle-creature comes out of the dark.
Page 14: Xander is pulled into the delusion-world next. In his, Mr. and Mrs. Harris have seen the error of their ways and have decided to not be drunken, cutlery-throwers anymore. Also, Xander’s prom is coming up and he’s still dating Cordelia and the theme is Dungeons and Dragons!
His mother is so excited to work on his wizard's costume and Cordy’s sexy witch outfit. Whatever Xander thinks he’s going to be wearing, it won’t include the eye patch. He’s younger and back to both eyes.
Xan gets one moment of shock, before proclaiming - “Oh, this is all fake.”
Commentary: AHH-hahahahahahahahahah! Okay -- totally NOT disappointed in the slightest that Buffy is falling for the trap. This was awesome.
Page 15: Over at Buffy’s, she and the Summers’ see Xander rush out into the night exclaiming for the replicants to stay away from him.
Joyce and Hank tell Buffy that Xander sets a bad example. They warn that he could end up dragging her away from them. Hank hands the Slayer Scythe over to her and tells her that she’ll have to kill him to protect her mother.
Commentary: What I find interesting though, is that once Buffy has been brought over into the delusion of her happy homelife, Dawn has vanished and no one mentions her. Now, presumably real-Dawn is SOMEWHERE in the demon’s grip but it’s got to mean something that when Buffy thinks of her happy-way-things-could’ve-been, she doesn’t include her sister even though she keeps saying in the real world that Dawn is a part of her.
It could be reading too much into it, but one has to wonder if she’d be willing to trade Dawn even now for a chance to go back and start over. It’d been even more interesting if Dawn really was there, caught in this same delusion in this same house with Buffy but her sister still can’t see her.
Page 16: On the street, Xander runs into overall wearing Willow who stutters that she had to get out of her house because everything felt wrong. Xan explains that she’s not the wallflower anymore and it’s been awhile since she was afraid to speak her mind to her mother.
With this Willow remembers who she is now and her and Xan revert to their real appearances. Willow goes on to explain about the demon she thinks may be responsible for everything.
Neither notice that Buffy is charging at them with the Scythe.
Page 17: Buffy throws her aim off at the last moment, refusing to hurt her friends. She tells them that seeing them as they are now, she remembers who she is. She then turns on “Hank” to yell at him for never being there for her when she needed him. She tells him that he never should’ve made her choose between him and the others because he couldn’t win in that choice.
Buffy tells Hank and Joyce that though she wants her family more than anything, that family is Willow, Xander, Spike, Giles and Dawn. She takes the Scythe and goes after her faux-parents.
Page 18: Over at William’s, his mother is complaining at all the racket going on across the street. She tries to draw Will away from the window, but Spike keeps thinking that something is important about Buffy.
This causes his mother to get enraged and insist that he stop being disobedient. William asks her not to be cross, but only because seeing her snarling at him makes him think of bad things….
Things like his mother’s vampire face after Spike had turned her.
He fangs out on her, as she mutates into a slimy critter. Spike tells her that they’re all bad things as he goes on the attack.
Commentary: I like the way that each member is coming to their senses, but I do wish that this was expanded somewhat. Maybe two issues in this dimension? I would’ve liked to see more of them coming to the realization that none of what they’re seeing is real and then realizing that they’re not the only one who think this way but that the “neighbors” are also thinking that everything feels off.
It feels like all of this is being rushed along -- probably because of the number of Scooby Characters involved.
Page 19: Spike tears apart the creature while screaming at his mother for making him weak by coddling him. He tells her that it’s her fault that he’s like this as he reduces her to a puddle of goo on the floor.
He then repeats over and over that the thing isn’t his mum.
Meanwhile, Hank is in the midst of his own transformation. Dawn is suddenly back on the porch without explanation and he yells at her to help her parents. But Dawn isn’t fooled either. She tells them that Buffy is in the right. She also tells herself that she wants what is real… even if it does hurt.
Commentary: I really loved this page for the moments with Spike and Dawn. Spike’s is very interesting in that before he tells the goo-creature that it isn’t his mum, he is seemingly shouting at her memory and blaming her for his being a damned creature. How interesting!
Who knew that William had a well of rage toward his mother for her being a coddler or that he felt like he wouldn’t have become a vampire if not for her making him weak?
Dawn’s coming to her realization is obviously a big step in her handling of her new emotions, the memories of her “recently” losing her mother and her breaking up with Xander because she can’t feel what it was like to fall in love with him [Was Christos a fan of ‘The Return of the Bionic Woman’… because Dawn’s telling Xander that she can’t remember what it felt like to fall in love with him is very much like Jaime telling Steve Austin the same thing for a comparable reason].
I like seeing this maturity in Dawn. But I also like that Willow herself hinted at why our heroes are able to so easily see through the spin of this demon: It’s in a symbiosis with children on the verge of losing their childhoods. But our characters are adults now; they’ve had to grow up already even if they weren’t well into their twenties by now… even Dawn has had to become a grown up after everything she’s dealt with.
Page 20: With the gang realizing what was happening, Willow determines a way to get back to reality. Except, there is a new problem.
Those disappeared kids? They’re not ready to go back to what little they had before… and they’re being led by a resistant Rupert! A Giles that still has his magic.
Page 21: It looks like there is going to be a giant fight, especially since the only reason that Buffy doesn’t get magic blasted is because the Scythe blocks Giles’ spell. But Buffy heads off the conflict before the gang have to beat on children by letting them take the Scythe from her hands while she talks to them.
She shares the lessons that she already learned about building a family who will have their backs if the one they were born into won’t or can’t. She tells them that the demon may have seemed to be helping them, but all it was doing is denying them from seeing how strong they really are.
Rupert yells that this is his second chance, but it’s too late. The demon’s grip has been broken and the everyone is transported back to reality.
Commentary: This is just another hint that this could’ve been a really good character analysis plot if it had been given more room. I would’ve really liked to have seen this as two issues within this demon dimension with particular focus on Spike and his mother and Rupert and his father and grandmother. This is just too compressed to be satisfying and having Rupert returned before he decides to go on his own feels like a cheat to me.
I also could’ve done without Buffy’s speech, honestly. Unfortunately, some people are not all that strong and Buffy’s little pep talk to a bunch of kids who’d been thrown away by their families or had become addicts on the street don’t seem like the people who are going to go back to their old lives and everything is going to suddenly be rosy. This is especially true of the kid in the long robes and bonnet who is clearly now going to be a hundred years out of time or more. I’m afraid that this ending needed some more time to develop as well for me to buy it.
This is especially glaring because technically it doesn’t look like the demon was actually harming anybody, except in allowing them to hide from their sucky realities which I suppose is a harm of a sort, but … yeah… I’m kinda sympathizing with the “victims” a little too much to think they’re all going to be happy to be “rescued”.
Page 22: Sometime later, Buffy reports that Dowling is finding help for the kids rescued. In the meantime, Rupert remains in a funk over his lost childhood. But there simply isn’t time to dwell on it right now, for D’Hoffryn has made his return appearance to report that with the return of magic, the dimensional walls have weakened and he fears an incursion in progress.
Buffy tries to buy a little time for Giles, but as he says - “Will anything truly be different tomorrow?”
The Good: I liked that the side players are being given a wrap up as the gang move toward rooming with one another again, rather than Buffy trying to have normal roommates while also trying to be the Slayer in town.
I really liked spotting some unexpected character insights, especially in Spike's blow-up at his "mother" over her coddling him instead of helping him grow up. I also loved that it's Xan who is the first one to throw off the illusion because his parents are just too over the top for him to accept as real.
It was also interesting that Rupert couldn't say no to the delusion because he wanted what it offered too much.
The Bad: Everyone needs to find a new place to live simultaneously? Did we just stumble into Buffy the Sitcom?
Other Thoughts: The pacing was a problem in this issue, simply because we got interesting bits of character insight which then had no room to expand. Everything felt rushed and the plot felt too compressed with an ending that was too easy.
The Score: I wanted to like this one more, but the interesting bits weren't allowed the room they needed to breathe and develop. It's a real shame.
3.0 out of 5 stars