Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 10
“Day Off (Or Harmony In My Head)”
Writer: Christos Gage, Artist: Rebekah Isaacs, Colorist: Dan Jackson, Letterers: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft’s) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: The rules of magic are literally being rewritten in the Vampyr book . With day-walking vampires and a male Slayer, Buffy & Co. are trying to keep the weirdness under control. Willow is learning the new rules, while Giles is coming to terms with his newfound youth, and Xander is trying to save his relationship with Dawn. The family is together, but the team is still tempted to write personal new rules into the book -- and bad guys are always lurking to make things worse.
Page 01: We open in Buffy, Willow and Dawn’s apartment where Willow and Buffy are in one of their bedrooms… Buffy’s, I think. Willow is worrying over an interview for a job and Buffy assures her that she’s not being given an interview just because Buffy saved the guy’s life but because her computer skills are awesome.
It turns out that Theo Daniels, he of the defunct interdimensional internet exchange, has started up a new business.
Talk turns to Buffy’s employment status, but she’s decided to commit to Slayer duties full time, though she’s accepting freelance consulting with Dowling’s supernatural-crimes department when the chances come up.
But Buffy’s not really concerned about the money situations these days as much as she’s bothered by the other things she’s got responsibility for… the New Rules of Magic being negotiated among so many disparate interests, while trying to be fair to the demonic community. Speaking of which, she’s already late for a meeting with some petitioners waiting in the living room.
Page 02: Buffy is annoyed by the constant bickering among the ‘lobbyists’ that keep wanting them to arbitrate. Willow is more terrified of the responsibility; She’s worried that if she messes this up, she’ll have ruined magic. Buffy finds this irony comforting after all of the grief Wills put on her for her own “ruining magic” last year.
Willow gives her a sardonic, “Glad to help. Also, I hate you.”
D’Hoffryn pops in to complain about the mess that will be unleashed if they don’t get out there, already.
Commentary: I really like how Season 10 has brought our family back together, as I’ve mentioned, but this is a fantastic example of why I’m so happy with season 10 thus far. The fact that Willow and Buffy can joke again without Willow’s nasty barbs regarding the Old Seed’s shattering makes everything right in the Scoobies and has been missed by me dearly.
I’m still kinda ‘blah’ about this whole Vampyr book rewrites a universe’s magic but whatever, at least it’s being approached with humor and not skimping on the enormity of the task.
Page 03: Buffy asks after the Mystic Council locating both the escaped Soul Glutton and the Siren Mother that almost killed Xan and Spike. He complains that their magic is powerful and they’ve successfully kept them from tracing their whereabouts. He suggests another rule change to give the holder of the leadership chair for the Mystic Council the ability to overcome some forms of hiding magicks. It’s something to think about, but Buffy doesn’t want to change things willy-nilly without more thought.
Shortly, she’s listening to the leprechaun rant about others being after it’s traditional pile of gold and wants assurances that the traditional roles will be honored. Willow promises that she’ll take these traditions on a case by case basis to ignore tradition’s more sexist or morally repugnant rules. Buffy can’t resist needling the leprechaun by adding that Willow would be more cooperative to his point of view, if he’ll but say “Always after me Lucky Charms!”
The leprechaun leaves outraged.
D’Hoffryn tells Buffy they have one more applicant to see and Buffy is flabbergasted by who it turns out to be.
Commentary: I like the humorous bits with Buffy, but really… you’d think Willow would kindly suggest that pissing off their visitors with culturally insensitive catch phrases from commercials isn’t helpful. It’s nice that the leprechaun is allowed to be outraged, but it’d be nicer if somebody else also mentioned it to Buffy just as an aside.
Page 04: Our new petitioner is Vicki… the new-vampire from Santa Rosita. Buffy is disgusted that she’s representing the New-Vampire contingent, but Willow’s more accepting of her having a place at the mystic table to discuss issues.
Before those discussions can take place though, Harmony busts in around her to do her Classic-Vampire representation schtick. Buffy is at least glad to see Clem again.
Page 05: Vicki’s problem with creating new rules is that she doesn’t want Buffy to strip them of their new powers. While Buffy, as a Slayer, wants to weaken the new vampires so it’ll be harder for them to kill human beings.
Harmony is there to act as an intermediate between the two opposing viewpoints and petition Willow on the rules to be set forth. She offers that rather than stripping the powers from the new-breed, that they be allowed to walk around in daylight as they can now, but that they lose their other powers in it - she describes this as low risk, high reward in altering things within the book.
In addition, the new-vampires will also agree to follow Harmony’s Laws in regards to not biting people without their consent, to not siring newbie armies and to not kill people.
Page 06: Vicki is outraged, Buffy doesn’t like that the new limitations won’t go far enough. D’Hoffryn takes this equal unhappiness as a sign that the compromise is the right tack to take. Willow also believes that it’s the most sensible.
With Willow being the decider, Vicki and Buffy shake on it and agree to the new restrictions, though both hate doing so. Harmony congratulates herself on her mediation skillz and Clem adds that she was amazing.
Page 07: With this decided, Buffy calls the petitioning window closed for the day and orders everyone out of her apartment. Vicki flips her the bird behind her back on her way out the door since, as she complains, it’s daylight and she can’t turn into a bat now.
With this business done, Dawn offers that they all need a day at the spa. Buffy freaks that they can’t afford it, while Willow offers that Theo already paid for the day. After some worry over the book’s safety while she’s gone, Buffy agrees that the spa does sound like something that she deserves.
In the shadows, somebody lurks.
Page 08: Over in the boys’ apartment, Xander is on his way out the door for another session with his shrink in regards to his pent up anger issues. Meanwhile Spike is going over supernatural crimes files for Dowling.
After Harris leaves, a knock at the door reveals Harmony and Clem dropping in.
Page 09: After Spike gets over the shock and invites them in, he apologizes to her for the way he used her in London when he was out of sorts trying to deal with Angel again. Harmony laughs it off and offers that he was the one being used by her.
Page 10: Spike goes on to include all of their past relationship in his apology and Harmony assures him it’s accepted. He marvels at how far they’ve both come, what with her being a leader of their people and he able to not to kill folks anymore.
He tells Clem that he always thought his bits of self-fulfillment talk was naff but he admits that he was right all along. As he’s going on about how anyone can become a better person, Harmony has grabbed a fireplace poker. She uses it on the back of his head.
Commentary: I’m still so very disappointed that Clem ended up being footman to Harmony, rather than assisting the Scooby Gang and building on the weird sorta friendship with Dawn. And every time Harmony shows up, I question why why why he’s do infatuated with her because she’s just as self-centered as ever.
I do find it interesting that Spike would acknowledge Harms as a “leader” of “their” people, though. It’d be interesting to see a tale where Spike has to choose whether to admit that he sees her as such in a public setting with other vampires to find out just how committed he is to acknowledging this role that she’s basically made up for herself and somehow has gotten others to buy into.
Page 11: Harmony’s decision to stop by and speak with Spike at all was of course motivated by the fact that the Vampyr book is located with him. She wastes no time in finding it and deciding how to change the new rules in order to benefit herself.
First, everyone must love her and turn into wart covered, slimy toads if they talk smack about her.
Page 12: At the spa, Buffy tries to engage Dawn in conversation about Xander but Dawn puts a no “boys talk” on the day. Buffy ignores her to talk up all of the qualities that make it so right for her sister to be with him and the risk she runs by taking her time that he’ll have moved on by the time she’s gotten around to realizing that she does want to be with him.
Dawn points out that her words could just as easily refer to her and Spike, or her and Angel, or her and Robert.
Buffy reminds her they’re not talking about boys.
Page 13: Meanwhile, Harmony is continuing to dictate changes to Clem to make: All Humans Love Being Bitten And It’s A Wonderful Experience For Them Every Time And Vampires Try Not To Kill Them, But If It Happens Everyone Understands It Was A Mistake And Nobody Freaks Out About It. Also, because Harmony is not the selfish sort *cough* Buffy, Spike and Angel Stop Feuding About Who Loves Whom And Start Living A Polyamorous, Polygamous Lifestyle Because Everybody Else Can See That Is The Best Thing For All Three Of Them.
Commentary: Am I bad for agreeing with Harmony on that last one? I mean not the writing it into the rule book thing, but if these three would just form a trinity, it’d be so much easier on the rest of us who are tired of the constant back and forth in Buffy’s affections.
Of course, that’s often my response to love triangles even though I’m sure it’d be a lot harder to maintain than it sounds.
Page 14: Now that Harmony is finished being selfless, also into the book: Everyone Realizes That She’s The Most Beautiful, Awesomest, Smartest One In The World And Everyone Worships Her And Does What She Says And Nobody Ever Hurts Her Feelings Ever. Every Guy She Likes, Like Her Back Until She Grows Bored With Them At Which Time They Go Away And Cry In Private Over Her Unless She Wants Them To Stalk Her For The Thrill. Every Girl Wants To Be Harmony Kendall But None Of Them Can Be And It Breaks Their Hearts But They Still Love Her Too.
Commentary: Again, why is Harmony constantly being trusted? Why would Spike actually invite her in without at least being suspicious about her being in vicinity to the all important book?
I was having a hard enough time with her not being staked by somebody along the way, but I’m finding it hard to see any of our group actually allowing her an all access pass to anywhere of importance. I’m shocked Willow wouldn’t cast the dis-invite spell immediately upon her and Vicki leaving and making sure that the spell would remain potent using the book to write it as a hard rule.
Page 15: Now that Harmony is done with her self-aggrandizement, she orders Clem to read it back to her so that she knows he got it all right. Clem acts sheepishly and Harmony asks him if he wrote down that she’d love him but he tells her he’d never do that as that wouldn’t be real love. This puts her mind at ease on that score but then she asks if he was sure to write down that everyone loves her, completely missing his point, of course.
Meanwhile, Spike wakes up and snatches the book away from them. Harmony laughs that he’s too late and orders him to kiss her ass, literally. Spike instead just glares at her with his arms crossed and with a raised eyebrow.
Harmony grits out asking Clem why Spike isn’t doing what she ordered.
Commentary: Yay, Clem! Even though he’s still disappointed me so by playing assistant to this vacuous ditz, at least at his core Clem remains a decent man. The comics haven’t destroyed his character for me, so I’m relieved about that. Now, if only Harms would fire him so he can be a Scooby member. He could totally room with Andrew and they could geek out together! It’s perfect.
Page 16: It turns out that Clem actually didn’t write anything down. He explains to Harmony that he’s devoted enough to her that he doesn’t want to risk the book’s Monkey Paw quality harming her by making her the center of a bunch of changes in it. But more, Clem wants everyone to honesty love her because of the amazing, beautiful, unique person she is, like he loves her. And someday, maybe he’ll have earned her love back after he’s able to help her gain the love of everyone around her.
Her answer is a wordless slap across his flabby face.
Page 17: She storms out and Spike offers Clem always has a place if he gets tired of her abuse. Clem assures him that’ll never happen.
After they leave, Spike realizes that Clem did make a change!
In the hallway, Harmony is berating Clem for his disregard for her feelings. But in the hallway waiting is something that Harmony wanted him to write into the book… that thing that Spike has realized Clem added… A Unicorn, because they’re now totally real.
Commentary: Ohhhhh. Okay. If I think about it for more than a second, I’m still against making such a change because of unintended consequences. But, that was really sweet and darn me, anyway - but I liked it.
Page 18: Spike calls Clem a softy, but he decides to leave the change in place.
He thinks aloud that it should always be so easy and dictates a change he’d like to make. One where he Shanshues and he and the Slayer live happily ever after.
Xander has come in and overhears this part. He tells him it sounds nice if it wasn’t for that pesky detail of one person not having any choice in the matter.
Page 19: Spike assures Xander that he wouldn’t really write that in the book but Xander already knew that. He sympathizes as he and Dawn have both daydreamed about fixing their relationship woes with the book by restoring things.
Spike offers that he’s actually kind of happy now with the way things are with Buffy, what with their actually being true friends. They’re much better at their relationship now than when they were “blowin’ the grounsils”.
Xan tells him he not even going to ask what that’s referring to. Spike goes on to describe what grounsils are and that he meant when he and Buffy were boffing on the floors. Xan exclaims that he said he wasn’t asking.
Page 20: Spike goes on that it’s better for both of them if he and Buffy just make a go of their friendship the way it is without the complications of sex in the way.
Xander [for some totally convenient reason] left the apartment door open on coming in, so Buffy hears this and gets a look like maybe she might have been thinking that they could approach a dating relationship again. [It’s not exactly clear since she’s doesn’t get a thought balloon.]
She returns to the girls’ apartment to say that Xan was snoring so she didn’t want to bother him to retrieve the book - presumably to add the changes agreed to that day.
Page 21: Elsewhere in Antioch, CA the missing Siren Queen and Soul Glutton are meeting secretly with a multi-eyed demon. He’s proposing a pact against Buffy and their old rival, whoever that may be [D’Hoffryn?].
Page 22: The Soul Glutton questions listening to The Sculptor, but he responds that his gift is seeing how things fit together. He also reveals that he’s been studying their quarry most closely and how the Slayer has gotten involved with their “old friend” and can see where they can manipulate things behind the scenes to lead them into a conflict that will leave the victor weak and ready to be beaten when they’re ready to reveal themselves.
The pact is agreed to, over a pit of human captives.
The Good: I continue to love how the Scooby Gang is being written in regards to their relationships with one another. It feels so good.
I like how Clem is handled, even though I don't like that he's so smitten with Harmony.
I can't believe it, but yes... I liked that really sweet gesture of making unicorns real from Clem toward Harmony.
I also like how the Spike and Xander relationship is being handled.
The Bad: There isn't anything badly done.
Other Thoughts: I'm on the fence about Vicki being a recurring character and this truce she has going with Harmony. I think it would be more fun if the New Vampires and Classic Vampires continued to be at one another's throats, leaving our good guys in the middle of a destructive turf war that can't be ignored. Forcing Buffy to have to side with Harmony over the greater danger could be fun, as well as funny.
And speaking of Harmony, I wish we could get Clem away from her. I enjoy his visits, but I can do with less Harmony.
The fact that Spike would invite Harmony in with the book just lying around on the table and turn his back to her so easily is annoying. I also find it strange that Willow would cast "dust immediately" wards against the New Vampires, but wouldn't bother for the Classic Vampires just as a precaution. It feels silly.
The Score: As is usual, Harmony's appearance means this is a slight and comic story. It's well written for the triffle that it is.
3.25 out of 5 stars
Next Up: The Night Stalker review