Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 09
“Return to Sunnydale” conclusion
Writer: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Andrew Wells, in possession of the Vampyr book - in which the rule of magic are slowly being rewritten - has returned to Sunnydale, where a huge Halloween celebration is happening on the edge of the Hellmouth. Buffy, Willow, and Spike are in pursuit, hoping to stop whatever misguided (or intentionally evil) plan Andrew might be hatching.
Page 01: Buffy and Spike are continuing to battle against the vengeance seeking Soul Glutton who wants to feed on the world to punish it for its Slayer killing his family millennia ago.
The demon’s babbling lets Buffy and Spike know that Andrew has started the resurrection ritual, though they don’t know that Andy isn’t there to bring back Warren. He’s attempting to resurrect both the murdered-by-him Jon and the murdered-by-Warren Tara. Buffy tells Spike they just need to hold the demon off until Willow gets back after stopping Andrew.
We have to wonder if Wills is going to stop him when she finds out who he wants to bring back….
Page 02: Meanwhile Willow has found her way to Warren’s grave where there isn’t any sign that Andrew has been there. She gets to thinking over Andy’s motives and realizes that everything points to him not being interested in bringing back his evil ex-friend.
She starts to ponder who else Andy would feel responsible for and is hit with who he’d want to summon as an act of contrition.
Page 03: With Buffy and Spike, she tells the Glutton that he must have a hate-on at her because a former Slayer killed his family. She appears to be about to explain that it was probably just business, considering their opposite natures, but instead she just tells him that he looks like Calamari and she was probably peckish.
The demon is outraged and tries to squash her with a two fisted blow… which is what Buffy wanted him to do. She’d maneuvered him to some weak tunneling and he falls down further into the pit.
She tells Spike to watch her back while she tries Giles again to get some details on how to defeat this type of demon.
Page 04: Over at Giles’ apartment, he’s in wonder at the clear signal Buffy has gotten through their carrier while she’s still in the crater.
But the point of the call is the Soul Glutton. He fills her in on some details, but the main point it to stab it in the head with her magical blade and hope that it can drain the stolen soul energy from it.
Buffy tells him about the resurrection ritual going on elsewhere close by and Giles warns her that a soul must not come directly from the hereafter while the Glutton is nearby. If it fed on such a soul, it would be unstoppable.
Commentary: I like here that we’re seeing the gang separated, but still working together as it should be with our gang. Season 10 seems to be focused strongly on re-bonding the Scooby Gang after the strains of Season 5 through Season 8 and the experiment with bringing in others in Season 9. And I welcome it wholeheartedly.
Page 05: Buffy fills Spike in on what they need to do.
Spike is worried about the Soul Glutton getting it power on and draining William out of the vampire shell. He asks Buffy to kill him immediately if that should happen.
Buffy refuses, stating they’d fix him afterward but Spike tells her that if the Soul Glutton drains his soul, there won’t be a way to fix that and he can’t face going back to being the soulless Spike again.
She tells him that she said some things that were unintentionally harsh sounding, but vampire Spike wasn’t all that bad of a guy. He’d helped her, he’d protected Dawn when she needed him and he’d loved her.
But Spike tells her that he didn’t.
Commentary: Uh-oh. Go ahead, Christos, jump feet first onto that hornet’s nest.
Page 06: Spike tells her that at the time he would’ve sworn that he did, but he now realizes it was a selfish, possessive bastardization of love. He admits that it was about having what he wanted, not about what she needed. It wasn’t anything like what he feels toward her now.
Buffy tells him that there was always some good left in him, even without Will’s soul driving it, but Spike points out how often it wasn’t enough to stop him from being a killer.
At that moment, the Glutton climbs up from the pit he was dropped in. Buffy tells Spike to turn the killer toward it.
Commentary: I really liked this bit with Spike reflecting on Season 6’s issues. It was a nice sentiment by Buffy that Spike always had good in him, and we did see an awful lot of that after the chip. But Christos’ view on the “love” of Spike toward Buffy pretty much matches my own: He really did think that he was in love with her at the time, but his demonic nature made true love impossible because it was always rooted in getting what he wanted while ignoring anything that might suggest that Buffy needed him to step away and give her space and time. It was destructive because it was selfishly obsessive about forcing her to want him in the way that he wanted her to want him, rather than looking at what she needed from him at that time.
Sorry old-school Spuffy fans, that’s just how I feel about it.
Page 07: Buffy and Spike manage a double penetration to the demon’s forehead, but nothing happens. They realize that the demon is super-charged on the resurrection spell energy being summoned into position.
Buffy complains that it’s typical Andrew and they can at least take comfort in the fact that the resurrected Warren is going to end up eaten.
Page 08: With Andy, he’s having his SIRI intone the incantation while he’s busy working on the exact wording in the Vampyr book to ensure that Tara’s resurrection doesn’t come with unpleasant consequences.
He writes out a litany of things that won’t happen due to resurrection spells being cast in future and congratulates himself that although there may still be some small risk…
… Willow comes up behind him and finishes the thought: “… worth it”.
Page 09: She goes on to tell Andy that was what she thought when she realized what the book could do. She’d already considered using its power to bring Tara back. In fact, she admits that with every new spell, every new artifact her first thought is can this bring Tara back to her.
But it can’t. And it shouldn’t. She tells Andrew that she appreciates what he wants to do and she wants it just as much, but she can’t allow him to do this. She gives him a magic zap.
But the power backfires on her, knocking her down while leaving Andy untouched.
Page 10: Andrew informs Willow that he put wards around his phone to keep her from being able to stop the incantation and the Vampyr book already has them. Willow tries again to convince Andy to stop the spell in progress, but he’s taken Buffy’s Potential speech to heart about not having to obey the rules that old, dead men put in place thousands of years ago. With the new magic rules being written, they can decide a new way… they can make things right.
But Andrew’s real goal is to make up for the things that the Trio did to Willow and Tara; he believes that he and Jonathon own part of what Warren did.
Willow breaks down into tears and admits that she misses Tara every day and Andrew uses this moment to tell her that she can help him bring her back with her experience in doing the same for Buffy.
Commentary: I really like the insight here into just how guilt ridden Andrew remains about things that happened when he was running around trying to be a super villain. Even though really I don’t believe he’s responsible for Warren’s taking that gun into Buffy’s backyard, I can see where he would ascribe responsibility to where the Trio’s deeds led… especially as super-Warren was beating the hell out of Buffy, Andrew was there cheering him on to kill her and he also seemed to get off on the power of watching his fantasy-boyfriend kill Katrina. Andy, for being portrayed as a useless geek, really does have a very dark space in his soul and it’s nice that he recognizes it and feels ashamed and repentant.
Page 11: Willow tells Andrew about the consequences to Buffy when she returned from Heaven. She reminds him that Buffy had only been gone a few weeks when Willow resurrected her, while Tara has been gone for years to a place where she is surrounded by love and peace.
She tells Andy that bringing Tara back to a world full of doubt and grief and pain would be cruel and selfish. She can’t let him do it.
Commentary: I love this argument that Willow makes. Especially her telling Andy that death isn’t tough on the one who has gone, it’s hard on everybody else and that isn’t enough to justify destroying Tara’s peace by forcing her back.
The only part of this that seems a little too convenient is Willow not being able to cancel the wards that she herself put in place around the book in Andy’s arms. Or she could’ve frozen Andrew in place in a holding field… without his completing the entry in the Vampyr book, surely SIRI’s chanting would have no effect. I mean -- please tell me it’s a bit more difficult to resurrect somebody than one litany and a few candles?
Page 12: While Willow and Andrew are having their tussle over the right thing to do, Buffy and Spike are finding it difficult just to stay in a deadlock with the Glutton.
Spike tries to put out its eye, which seems to work, but not enough. He’s snatched up in a tight grip. The Soul Glutton describes Spike’s soul as grey and compromised, but he won’t let that stop him from feeding: Spike yells in torment.
Page 13: Fortunately for him, Buffy recovers and the Slayer Scythe disrupts the soul feeding before Spike loses William.
But a moment later and both are grabbed up. Spike tells Buffy that she should’ve run for it, but she tells him that wasn’t going to happen -- whatever happens to one of them, happens to both.
Commentary: I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like the Buffy/Spike friendship that has developed where the sexual past doesn’t get in their way of mutual respect and affection. This might… might… be even better than the Season 5 relationship, which had been my favorite version of Spike… and may… may… still be; I’ll need to see more of this type of relationship between them before I can decide.
Page 14: Back with Willow and Andrew, his base reason for wanting to bring Tara back surfaces. Andy goes on a short rant about how after Willow brought Buffy back, things may have been rough for a while, but then everybody was happy again and it was all okay.
And after Angel killed Giles, it was horrible, but then Giles is back and everybody is okay again. And Xander betrayed them all with Simone but he meant well so everything worked out and is okay again. But none of them trust him, even though he’s been working with them for two years -- and they shouldn’t trust him, because he was part of killing Tara.
He wants to fix this so they can stop seeing him as the outsider who could turn on them at any moment. Willow apologizes for making Andy feel that way, as it wasn’t intentional but she tells him that he can’t fix their relationship by doing this to Tara or doing this to her.
Commentary: Hey! Didn’t I complain previously about how Andrew always seems to be the odd man out, no matter how much he tries to gain the gang’s respect?? I believe I did!
Page 15: Andrew takes a moment and then cancels SIRI’s recitation. He apologizes to Willow and she hugs him as both of them weep.
Commentary: I really liked this page, but I can’t help but feel that Andy has a basic character flaw that one hug by Wills isn’t going to fix. The basic issue is that Andrew is an easy butt monkey character, and it seems like the writers… all of them… can’t help but use him as the foil to the other Scooby members. But I really do like it when once in a while, we get a scene like this where you can tell they’re flirting with having him grow up some. I would like to see a lot more of a thoughtful Andrew Wells than the one constantly doing something dumb to cause friction. It’s starting to strike me as being lazy.
Page 16: With Buffy and Spike, they note that the Glutton seems to have suddenly and drastically shrunk. Buffy uses the distraction to stab the slime demon in the head, forcing it to release them.
The Soul Glutton rages that he came so close only to fail in his quest. He tells Buffy that his kind doesn’t have an afterlife but even so he’ll gladly die now to do so with the taste of revenge.
He uses his giant pitchfork to bring on a cavern collapse on all of their heads.
Page 17: Buffy and Spike take off, but the collapse is gaining on them. Buffy tells Spike that they’re not going to make it.
Page 18: But of course they are… with a last minute save from Willow, returned with Andrew to find them and make sure the demon was dealt with.
She levitates them out of the crater, sounding a bit wistful at where Sunnydale ended up but Buffy points out that home is where her friends are and this place was just a view.
Commentary: I bar Buffy from ever using the phrase, “my peeps” again.
Page 19: Out on the outskirts of the Hellmouth, the party is breaking up over concerns that the tremor was a pre-shock and the crater could widen to swallow them all if a quake is in the offing.
Andrew separates from the group, explaining that he knows he did something stupid and dangerous again and that he understands that the others will want him out of the group for their own good. He apologizes from trying to be Rogue and ending up Sabretooth.
[Marvel comic references: Rogue was a villain before she turned to the X-Men for help from Professor Xavier. None of the X-Men were thrilled with Charles’ offer of help and they were all waiting for her to betray the team. She has proven herself to be a stalwart supporter of the family for years now, though. Sabretooth was bad, is bad and the team’s attempt to reform him didn’t work out the way it did with Rogue… at least as far as I know, I haven’t kept up with their characters in quite a while.]
Buffy tells Andrew that he needs to stop obsessing on his time as the bad guy. She tells him that they’ve all tried to leave that in the past, but they can’t do that until he does.
Page 20: Buffy goes on to tell Andrew that she’s sorry that she has been holding a grudge about the Buffybot mindswap he did. She also tells him that she knows it probably seems unfair that she hasn’t seemed to forgive him, when she forgave Xander so quickly for his betrayal. But she also explains that Xan knows what he did wrong in not trusting them and he won’t be likely to repeat that mistake. She’s not sure that Andy realizes why what he attempts to do to help them is wrong and that’s why she has trouble putting trust in him.
Commentary: Also liking Buffy’s sentiment here as Andrew really does seem to have a blind spot in learning greater lessons. I’m really hoping that this is a step toward making Andy a real member of the Scooby family… and maybe, dare I hope, stop using him as the doofus to screw things up for the team.
Page 21: Buffy tells Andrew that their Melrose Place living conditions recently probably didn’t help him feel included. She offers that there is still an apartment available and she could help him get in so he could be living with the rest of them.
Andrew scoffs. He informs Buffy that San Fran is over and the place to be is Oakland. But he offers he’ll drop by the following morning with croissants.
Page 22: But in case we thought that Andrew had a complete change in the space of an hour, back at his home in Oakland, he’s talking to the Jon simulacrum.
He offers that from now on he’s done doing things without permission that may cause unintended hardships for his friends. So he asks the Jon program if he’d like him to build a new body…
Jon-program exclaims an enthusiastic yes and asks that it be taller than before.
The Good: I like that this was never about Andrew bringing Warren back, and the reasons for why Andrew wanted so badly to resurrect Tara. The conversation with Willow was really well done.
I also like that moment when we think Willow is agreeing to Andy's attempt, before she clarifies that she isn't and I like her recognition that bringing Tara back would be about herself and not about what is good for Tara.
I really continue to like what Christos is doing with the Buffy/Spike relationship.
The Bad: I won't list anything here.
Other Thoughts: I do have some minor issues in regards to Willow suddenly not being able to do a thing to interrupt Andrew's resurrection spell just when it's most convenient for her to be powerless. Although I am a big supporter of having Wills magical might restricted, so.... Yeah, I'm just in the middle, but leaning toward "too convenient".
I'm also less than impressed with the Soul Glutton demon this time out. It feels like there should've been more than enough time for him to suck Spike and Buffy's souls, which makes him ultimately a pretty crappy threat in that he didn't.
I'm not confident that I'm going to like a Jonbot running around, but I'm withholding judgement right now.
The Score: I'm just a little disappointed, because I didn't find the issue as emotional as I think it was attempting. The Willow/Andrew scenes, as good as they were, could've had one page less and the demon could've been presented as a bit more of a real threat, especially to Spike's becoming less human again. I did like a lot of the sentiments, but I didn't feel myself choking up.
3.25 out of 5