Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 11
"Love Dares You" part I
Script: Christos Gage, Artwork: Megan Levens, Colors: Dan Jackson, Lettering: Richard Starkings & (Comicraft’s) Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Buffy and the gang struggle with their newfound responsibility -- rewriting the rules of magic. Between that and trying to understand the regular ol’ rules of love, things are a little heated for our heroes. But this rock-solid group of friends are still enjoying adulthood in a thriving city (oh, er… except for Giles), until a seriously bad, bad guy comes to roost in a most unexpected place.
Page 01: We join Buffy trying to create a social life for herself by visiting a speed dating night out.
Her first attempt is a really nice guy, allegedly, looking for more than a hook up. Buffy tells him his desire for simple pleasures and a nice quiet life means it won’t work out.
Her second attempt is mohawked and net-shirted. He wants somebody wild and adventurous and polyamorous and into S & M and B & D… and yeah… no.
Page 02: Number Three recognizes her as the Slayer in the news so recently, except not quite because he readily believes she’s not her. But his offering that She wouldn’t be hanging around in a cheesy, hipster bar shoots down this attempt. And makes her feel kinda pathetic for hanging out in a cheesy, hipster bar.
Fourth Attempt is somebody who is sure that She is The Famous Slayer. He wants to ask her a bunch of questions about how vampires who don’t breathe can smoke cigarettes and why moonlight doesn’t kill vampires when it’s only reflected sunlight. And how do male vampires manage sex without blood flow to their….
Our Fifth Guy turns out to be a vampire and offers that they’re meeting like this is a bit awkward. He then remembers that the blonde Slayer is the one with the fetish for hooking up with vampires.
Commentary: So, we can tell right off that this is a comedy thing right? Tweaking the series and the fans a bit with the same observations we’ve made about how vampire physiology doesn’t quite make sense… although I never considered the sunlight/reflected sunlight via the moon thing before. So… thanks for that. The writing is cute and the artwork by Megan Levens is perfect for this light comedy tone.
Page 03: Vampire tries to convince Buffy that he’s very self-hating which he’s obviously heard she’s really into, what with Angel and Spike. The revelation that the Slayer is in the house catches the interest of another vampire who’d like to check her out.
Our two vampires then get into a shoving match over who is going to get Buffy out on a date, which leads to their nipple piercings getting caught on each other. Buffy has had enough and marches through them, pushing them apart and causing a double case of nipple ripping.
She tells them that they’ll heal in like two seconds. Also, speed dating sucks. Also, she likes her vampires with a little more soul.
Page 04: Over with Dawn and Xander, they’ve just left a non-date movie and Xan invites Dawn to a non-date dinner. But the restaurant they stop in at has a definite date vibe. They backtrack and Xan suggests a food cart as inherently not-datey. He’s talking a mile a minute in an attempt to avoid awkwardness.
Dawn sighs that the trying to avoid dating pressure isn’t working and apologizes to him.
Page 05: Xan believes his choice of a crepes cart suggested French cuisine, which suggests romance which was a faux pas choice for their non-date after show dinner. But Dawn tells him it’s not the crepes, it’s the trying too hard with one another to avoid appearing to be dating, and having everything be about that rather than when they could just hang out and have fun.
She suggests that they tried this too soon and she needs more time. She tries to lighten the mood by casually telling him she’ll see him around the apartment building.
But after she leaves, Xan has a case of the dumps about how things aren’t like they were before.
Commentary: Let’s talk about Xan and Dawn for a moment because I was very ‘ick’ about their hooking up in S8 and being together through S9. But I had become kinda-mostly okay with it, so the fact that they’ve run into this problem with Dawn’s emotional reset is, surprisingly, a little hurtful. I really want to see SOMEBODY in this group in a stable relationship, and I figured that it’d be Dawn and Xander so I was mostly okay with that.
I’m not sure I’d say that I’m exactly rooting for them… but I’m not not-rooting either. Mostly, I’d just like to see one person in the Scooby Gang have a love interest that starts this season and isn’t over when the series ends… whenever that is to be. I’m okay with it being Dawn and Xander.
Page 06: In another part of town, Willow is also on a date. She’s met Aluwyn, who has for the first time come to Earth’s dimension rather than having Willow go to her. They’re in a Wiccan House so can speak freely without everyone staring at the Snake-Woman.
Aluwyn is there on official business as well, but suggests that afterward they could stay in a while.
Page 07: Willow turns talk to business as Aluwyn is part of a Super Coven along with the Mystic Council that is monitoring the situation with Earth’s magic across dimensional boundaries. Aluwyn tells Willow she has complete confidence in Will’s ability to manage the transition into the new rules of magic for Earth’s dimension.
But Willow isn’t only worried about that. Aluwyn senses a change in Will’s demeanor from when she was a student seeking council. Willow admits that she’s feeling unsure about what is between them and excuses herself for the evening, promising to speak to her former mentor the following day.
Page 08: We skip over to Giles’ plans for the evening. Which in this case, include reconnecting with Olivia. Things don’t go smoothly at first, as she thinks Rupert is some kid playing a really shitty joke.
But Giles is able to confirm his identity with the story of how they met and where they ended up spending their time in a rented room that neither of them could actually afford.
She’s understandably shocked by his current state.
Commentary: Hey, Olivia! I was glad to see that we have an older, established character making the scene again, considering how little we actually saw her in the television series. That was cool.
Page 09: Olivia and he catch up. It seems that now that the magic is out of the bag publicly - everyone who has had any experiences with the mystical have been in demand. Olivia has found herself working in L.A. with a special advisory role to the San Fran PD.
This makes Rupert glad, as she’ll be coming into the city several times a year. He expresses how lucky he feels and tries to kiss her. But she’s very uneasy about that.
In fact, she’s quite not-into that, what with Giles being a kid now. Rupert tries to explain that his mind and feelings are fully adult, but she counters that his body is twelve.
Rupert next tries out the line that she’s never been one to follow convention. But, let’s face it… his body is still TWELVE. Olivia can’t overlook that and feel like anything but a pedophile and tells him so. Giles proves that it’s more than his body that has reverted in age as he throws what can only be termed an immature hissy fit over her rejection.
And a pretty ugly one, at that.
Page 10: Olivia points out to Giles how unfair he’s being… not to mention how un-Rupert-like his outburst was. She suggests that he’s been changed far more than just cosmetically.
Giles has to agree that whatever he thought, and he thought that he was just himself in a smaller frame, he’s actually something completely different from what he was.
Olivia tries to look on the bright side by reminding him that it means he can be anyone that he wants, like a fresh new start. But Rupert says he liked who he was.
Commentary: Okay, so that was really uncomfortable and not expected but it was logical and sensible to approach Giles’ sex life now that he’s been so radically altered. I like the verbalization of his dilemma… he’s an adult man so can’t relate to teens his body’s age, but he’s a child also which keeps any of his previous relationships from being renewed at least for several years. And I really liked Rupert telling Olivia that instead of welcoming his chance to do things over, he actually liked who he used to be.
I also like that perhaps we’ll be exploring an entirely new Rupert Giles through this transformation. The continuing impacts of Angel’s resurrecting him on Rupert is something that I hope we’ll continue to deal with, especially in those times when he’s not in Scooby Gang mode. It’ll be interesting if Faith and Angel are both confronted at some point by Giles about their doing this to him and whether ultimately they should’ve left well enough alone. Of course, that may get a little too complicated an argument considering all of the pieces of him that were scattered around -- not least of which was in the possession of Eyghon. But then again, I like complicated.
Page 11: With Andrew, he’s been invited to a Bacchanal, which he’s finding discomforting. The woman who invited him invites him to meet who she describes as their leader… perhaps a coven? She’s gotten the idea that Andy may have been interested in getting to know Clive much better, but her meaning seems to go over Andrew’s head.
In fact, it turns out that he’s not actually there for the grand party/orgy thing that may be occurring and is more there for the potion that our witch mentioned having. This potion can apparently be used to create a new physical body. Andrew assures her that he’s only interested in it academically and not because he wants to play with forces that man was not meant to.
[Right. I’m guessing that he’d rather create a flesh golem type body for Jonathon, then download him into a robot.]
Page 12: Julie goes on to tell Andrew about the Asclepian Vial. But she clarifies to Andy that she believes it supposed to transform a person into their idealized self… not actually create a body out of nothingness. She also shares that it’s a tradition that everyone knew to visit takes a sip to see if anything has happened. So far, it’s never worked on anyone and she half-suspects that the contents are renewed, not by magic [it never empties] but by Clive pouring Perrier in the vial when nobody is around. She states that she’s begun to believe that the “potion” is actually symbolic rather than real and is to be used to encourage self-examination and reflection.
Julie again broaches his meeting Clive to see if they have a chemistry. She tells Andy that she’s seen how he looks at him, and wonders if he’s ever looked at a girl with the same interest. Andrew claims that he’s not had time for romance, being far too busy. But Julie persists and Andrew realizes that he may in fact be attracted to Clive. Andrew is shocked to admit that he may be gay, having been clueless up until now.
Page 13: Andrew offers that he can’t be gay, as he would’ve surely known by now if that was the case. He suggests that the potion is doing something wonky to him.
Julie tells him that he’s just being shown his ideal self by the potion’s workings [assuming it isn’t just Perrier, presumably] and she thinks it’s awesome that Andy is realizing who he is meant to be.
Before Andrew can process that maybe he would like to kiss Clive or somebody like him though, the demon known as The Sculptor busts down the door. He’s there to take possession of the Asclepian Vial, undoubtedly to further his new alliance with the Soul Glutton and the Siryn Great Mother. Julie yells for Andrew to give him the vial before they’re all killed.
But the potion was definitely not just bubbly water. Andrew is suddenly transformed into a giant, body builder - tearing up his clothes in the process. And he’s in the mood for a demon beat down.
Page 14: With Andrew’s transformation, the Sculptor complains that he’s arrived too late. As Andy tears into the flesh golems that the Sculptor brought with him, Andy informs him that he knows what they are. He further tells the demon that with them being nothing more than bags of flesh and his being nothing more than an evil demon, there isn’t anything immoral in tearing them apart.
The Sculptor chooses to retreat, not being prepared to actually fight somebody with powers as this was supposed to be a quick smash and grab. He tells Andrew that they’ll be seeing each other later. Andrew - in full on superhero geek mode now - offers that the demon “can’t hide from justice!”
With the demon having run off without hurting anyone, Clive rushes up to Andrew to pat him on the chest. He tells Andy that the potion worked for the first time ever and turned Andy into his perfect self…he even calls him a superhero.
Julie looks… unsure? Maybe a bit guilty?
Commentary: Yeah, it does seem very convenient that a magic potion to give Andrew just what he’s always wanted to be should happen to fall into his grasp right as a demon attacks, isn’t it? And Clive straight up calling Andrew a superhero… his fantasy? And what is with the way Julie is positioned with her arms around herself and that not-celebratory look on her mug about? I’m very suspicious that our Andrew has been set up… and it’s particularly cruel if so.
On the other hand though, it struck me that The Sculptor does seem to want the potion, so it’s effects have to be real right? It wouldn’t be after it for nothing, especially exposing itself as working against San Francisco’s self-styled guardians.
But then I remembered how last issue left off with the Sculptor deliberately making the point that he’s studied our gang extensively and as part of his natural abilities can see how all of the cogs fit together and how to exploit the weaknesses in our gang. It’s suddenly feeling more than ever like this whole thing was a set up. It’s even possible that Clive, Julie and everyone else at this party were held in the ‘food pit’ and are only golems themselves.
I’m just not buying this convenient ‘coming into his own’ Andrew tale on face value.
As for Andy’s sexual identity… well… I wish I had more to say about it, but I really don’t. I always presumed that he was either gay, bisexual or asexual and just hadn’t figured it out for himself. I actually don’t care at this point how they handle Andrew’s sexuality so I wasn’t shocked or surprised or glad or anything else about his questioning his interest in this Clive guy.
Page 15: Meanwhile, we check in with Spike and his dating situation… as this issue is all about the dating scene among our Scooby Gang. Spike is currently with Robert Dowling -- no, they’re not the dating ones -- where Robert mentions an Officer Hardwicke has more than passing interest in him. Spike declines, stating that he’s planning on being married to the job for awhile, like Dowling. But Robert informs him he actually does have a date… a woman with the LAPD up for a supernatural conference that he’s hit it off with.
Spike was actually there to consult on a case however. A dead man with missing limbs at a butcher’s. In addition to the man’s arms and legs, a half ton of beef was stolen by the killer. Robert suggests werewolves, but Spike advises that they’d have torn the poor guy apart, and wouldn’t have focused on arms and legs. He suggests somebody is building a golem.
Robert urges Spike not to get so hung up on Buffy that he can’t let himself see that other women have a lot to offer, too.
Spike rolls his eyes and takes off with a promise to ask around about their case.
Commentary: And I’m suddenly horrified that Olivia is the LAPD contact that Robert has hit it off with. Not that I should be… she’s pretty clear that her and Giles had remained casual and that allowed their relationship to work so well in the past. But… I’m going to be horrified on Giles’ behalf anyway and hope that this was just a wrong suspicion on my part. Poor Rupert, though. I’d be surprised if Andrew didn’t at least broach the subject of making a new body for Giles, once he’s completed the Jonathon project.
As for the beef theft and limbs… again, was Clive, Julie and all the dayplayers nothing more than Golems? Is Andy being played with that potion nonsense?
Page 16: Spike goes to a demon social club to ask about anyone with a yen for golem construction. A club member points Spike in the direction of The Sculptor, though where he is exactly is up in the air.
Our informant turns his attention to the kitty poker game that has been ongoing. Spike objects that the kitty tournaments were supposed to be a thing of the past due to its negative impact on public opinion [One of Harmony’s Rules… or an independent development?], but Informant points out that there aren’t any humans around to complain.
He tells Spike that his soul is showing and he should probably clear out before he sees where the kitties are going to end up. A little tabby with green eyes gives him a cutey ‘mew’ and Spike cracks his knuckles… clearly not going to leave until the cats are safe and sound.
Page 17: Later that evening, Buffy, Willow and Dawn are pigging out on ice cream and talking over their relationship issues. Willow is saying that she chose Aluwyn as her guide because she’s a trickster and would make Willow re-examine everything to find the truth. But now that she’s not in need of magical guidance, she’s finding herself unsure of being with the witch. Aluwyn will always be a trickster and that makes Willow wonder if she’ll ever really be able to relax around her or trust her motives going forward.
She also worries that being in charge of the book will make her back slide on the magical addiction front, but Buffy voices complete confidence in her mastery of her addiction and ability to do the right thing with her magic. Dawn offers that she’s also having trouble just relaxing around Xander and it’s making everything between them difficult.
Wills and Buffy can only give her sympathy-face.
Page 18: In Xander’s apartment, Anya’s ghost is haranguing him for being boring with all of his Dawn-mope-age. He yells back that he’s sorry his misery isn’t more interesting.
Anya accuses Xander of being so tense in his worry about getting Dawn back that he’s making everyone miserable. She suggests he get a pet to help him relax.
Which is when there is a knock on the door. This turns out to be Spike, six rescued kittens in his arms. He offers that they’re presents.
Commentary: Aww. Why can’t we all discuss how sick we are of the Spander-maybes going on constantly, instead of Spuffy, Spuffy, Bangel, Spuffy? These two can be adorable together… and they don’t have quite as many bad history moments!
Page 19: Back at the women’s apartment, Dawn is yelling at Buffy for her continually pushing Dawn into Xander’s arms when it doesn’t feel right for her. She accuses her of not being on her side. But Buffy tells her she doesn’t think there needs to be sides. She loves both her sister and Xander and they were really good together.
Dawn spins this back on her, accusing her of sabotaging her progressing her relationship with Spike. Buffy fires back that her and Spike are a different thing because of some bad history, but Dawn points out that was pre-soul Spike. She accuses her sister of not giving him a fair chance since and as she storms up to bed, tosses out that she doesn’t think Buffy really wants to be happy.
Buffy turns to Willow for a disputing of this charge, but Willow kinda, maybe sees that Dawn has an itty-bitty point about the dance between Spike and the Slayer. Buffy chooses now to go out on patrol, offering to Willow that she and her sister suck at girl-talk time.
Commentary: Oh, boy. More Spuffy-maybes, huh?
I’ve talked so much about this, I’m just too tired to say the same thing anymore. Moving on.
Page 20: With the kittens resettled, Spike is off to check local haunts for signs of his golem builder. Xander complains about being left to take care of a bunch of kitties but their soft-cuddles and purring soon have him chilled out.
In the hallway, he runs into Buffy. And with his mention on the way out of his door in regards to police business wants in if it involves hitting things. She complains that chicks always want to talk about feelings, but never the ones she wants to talk about.
He offers, “I am baffled but will smile and nod agreeably.”
He invites her along to possibly hit things.
Page 21: Later in a local cemetery, they work together to take down more meat golems, but the big boss is nowhere to be seen. They also banter whose puns were more lame.
Buffy thanks Spike for the fun, as it was just what she needed. He offers that he had a feeling, and she agrees that he usually does.
Page 22: In the pre-dawn light, Buffy ends up grabbing Spike by his jacket and kissing him.
Commentary: More Spuffy-maybes, huh? Yeah, ditto my last comment.
The Good: The opening few pages with Buffy's speed dating results was amusing and enjoyable. I especially liked the vampires getting into an argument over who can date her, rather than kill her.
It was a nice moment to see Olivia again... for a minute.
I liked that we're getting more insight into Rupert Giles' continuing dilemmas with his new boy body [but, this was uncomfortable].
I liked the scenes of the girls eating ice cream together and commisserating over their romantic tribulations.
Yeah, yeah... I enjoyed seeing Spike covered in kittens. It's a cute image.
The Bad: On again, off again Spuffy. I'm really so done with caring one way or another.
Other Thoughts: I have a thing with the artwork. I really enjoyed the look of the comic during the first few amusing pages, but when the scene switched to Giles and Olivia or Xander and Dawn, the style suddenly didn't fit anymore and I stopped liking it. I'll call it a mixed bag. It doesn't affect scoring any, but I was left conflicted enough to include here.
I'm also of a conflicted mind about Dawn and Xander and Buffy's interference about it, too. It does feel like the past few issues, she's been pushing too hard on them to fix their relationship. If anyone could recognize that fixing what was a close relationship isn't that easy, it should be our Slayer. I wish we'd see her being more supporting of Dawn's viewpoint, no matter how much she herself may be wishing that Dawn and Xan would make it work out.
The Score: The issue had some cute moments, but these were interrupted uneasily by more serious moments that conflicted with the 'cartoony' style of the artwork. It made the tone feel uneven and wobbly. As well, I just wasn't interested in many of the subplots such as Andrew's scenes or *sigh* the Spuffy-thing-again.
3.0 out of 5 stars
Next Up: The X-Files, "Ice".