Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 12
“Love Dares You”, part 2
Writers: Christos Gage & Nicholas Brendon, Artist: Megan Levens, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: 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 Giles), until a seriously bad, bad guy comes to roost in the most unexpected place.
Page 01: We open in the cemetery at the moment that issue 11 left off on… i.e. Spuffy kissage. When the kiss ends, Spike is left a bit puzzled and Buffy goes on to explain that … in her messy Buffy way… that she knows their past attempt at a relationship was full of unhealthy. But she goes on to explain that they were two different people then: She was full of self-hatred and he was the soulless thing that she’d sworn to oppose.
But he wasn’t the current him then, and now he’s himself and she’s come a long way in growing since the Dark Place. Buffy tells him that if he’s still up to trying, she’d like to give the two of them a decent shot at being a real couple, finally.
Page 02: Spike, shockingly, is the one to pull away. He tells Buffy that he’s not sure if this is a good idea and questions her timing. Buffy’s turn to stand there confused… a bit put out to boot.
Spike wonders if the only reason that she suddenly wants to try a “them” is because he’d finally gotten himself comfortable around her while staying in the friend zone.
Commentary: ARRRGGH. I know, I know - Spuffy teasing is a thing, a thing that we can’t help but repeat as Buffy keeps pinballing between Spike and Angel and kinda-sorta-guy-of-the-season and back again.
But this annoyed me to no end.
Page 03: Buffy insists she isn’t messing with Spike’s head, but he’s not so sure that isn’t what she’s doing subconsciously. He goes through her recent list of love interests: Himself - but only when he was the dark, shameful secret, Xander - but only after she’d become aware that he was dating Dawn; Angel again - but not when he was regular guy who’d try to make it work but only when he was Mad God Angel; Satsu - when she’s not even gay.
Buffy interjects about Xander’s big mouth and what a mistake it was for her to allow the two of them to move into the same apartment. Spike focuses on pointing out that Buffy seems to be developing a pattern of going after lovers who aren’t actually attainable to return a real relationship with her. He wonders what will happen if she decides that she’s bored in a month or two and wants to go after someone else she can’t get instead. He mentions if she’s sure she won’t sudden get a pining for Andrew, Willow or Giles.
Buffy glares at the Giles suggestion.
Commentary: I’m going to go ahead and say that I find it quite amusing to think of Xan and Spike sitting around the table and Xander just blabbing his way through Buffy’s love life while Spike was off doing his own thing. And I can see Spike’s point suddenly, so now I’m less annoyed at the previous aborted Spuffy scene. Spike’s trying to make her question why she’s suddenly interested in him again is an uncharacteristically mature thing for Spike to do.
Page 04: Spike tries to take back some of the sting in his last comment, but Buffy cuts him off to tell him he was right and trying to restart their flirtations was a mistake. She leaves him alone feeling like a wanker.
Page 05: Later at the apartment, Spike has shared with Xander. Xan agrees that Spike acted like a moron.
Spike reminds Xander that he told him he’d used the same speech with Buffy in Tibet when she made her play for him, but Xander reminds him back that he was in a relationship at the time. Whereas, Spike is single and available. More, he is in love with her and she finally reached back out to connect with him only to now be slapped down and probably reigniting her deep-seated fears about male abandonment when it comes to men who say they love her.
Spike repeats he was a wanker.
Commentary: Hmmmm. What do ya all think?
I sorta get what Xan is saying here but I’m not sure I can completely buy it. If Spike was wondering about Buffy’s sudden romantic interest after their working so hard with becoming real friends, wouldn’t it be unfair to her to suddenly just forget those doubts to make out with her anyway? Isn’t questioning her sudden desire to be more than friends the right thing to do for the reasons that Spike gave?
And what is up with Xan? Isn’t it sounding a little weird for him, of all people, to opinionate that Spike should’ve accepted Buffy’s turn of affection and followed his own desire in this case?
I just don’t know how to take this right now. I’d briefly wondered if Xan was a flesh golem in disguise at this moment, but I don’t think that’s what is happening at all. And I can’t decide if this is Xan being OOC, or just a sign of the new maturity that our heroes are coming into in putting the past in the past and dealing with one another as they are now.
Page 06: Xander mentions that his therapist and him have been dealing with Xan’s own feelings of insecurity and past relationship pains. He offers that maybe everything Spike said to Buffy about her penchant for following effed up relationships could easily apply to him, too. Except in his case, he goes for women who aren’t capable of having a healthy relationship even if they tried: Mad Drusilla, Depressed Buffy… Harmony….
Xander offers that Buffy isn’t the only one damaged. Spike goes to leave in order to talk to Buffy again, but Xander councils that he let her cool down before he makes things worse and then talk to her again later.
Page 07: As Xander is telling Spike to give Buffy some space to breathe, a shadow is flying toward the window. A smashed glass later, and it turns out to be Super-Andrew who apologizes for not being used to his enhanced leg strength yet when making his Hulk-leaps (or fine Andrew, his golden-age Superman leaps).
Andrew tells them they don’t have time to go into everything that is happening with him though, as they have a bad guy to stop. He tells him he needs the help of his Superfriends on this case.
Page 08: Sometime later, everyone has retired to Buffy, Willow and Dawn’s apartment to discuss what has happened. Andrew relates his potion imbibing but quickly turns attention to the demon lord they have to hunt down. He mentions the flesh golems and Giles immediately recognizes the work of The Sculptor.
Willow invites Andrew’s friends, Clive and Julie, to help her out with some magic analysis of The Sculptor’s magic while she focuses on combat spells with Rupert’s assistance. Clive is geeky-thrilled to be working with Willow Rosenberg.
As everyone mobilizes both Spike and Dawn want to speak to Buffy but she tells them both “no” as they got work to do at the moment. She calls to Andrew to give her something she can stab.
Page 09: The gang find The Sculptor in Butchertown, South of Market.
The gang are intercepted in their attack by an amalgam of flesh in the form of a large, twisted golem. The Sculptor shouts that they’ll all die for his art, as he sees his meat creations.
Dawn fires crossbow bolts, Buffy has the Scythe, Andrew and Spike depend on their super strength and Xander awesomely has a flame thrower gun, while Willow tries counter-magic.
Commentary: Uh… if I was Dawn, I think I’d be concentrating on distracting The Sculptor himself rather than wasting ammo on the huge Flesh Monster. And I don’t know what Spike or Buffy think they can accomplish with fisticuffs and edged weapons on a mass that can be resealed nearly immediately by The Sculptor’s powers.
There’s some poor tactical work going on here by our good guys. But I could stand to get a lot more of Xander Harris using a flame thrower.
Page 10: Meanwhile, Clive and Julie are attempting to unravel The Sculptor’s creation with some counter magic as well but due to its size (at least Clive guesses so) the spells aren’t being effective.
The Flesh Monster lunges at the two of them. Before it can crush them under its balk, though, Andrew dives in to play the hero. He rends the flesh of the golem and starts to tear it in half.
But with it being so malleable, and not alive to feel pain, he suddenly finds himself engulfed within the meat-beast.
Page 11: While Andy is swallowed up, Buffy and Spike have made their way to standing on parts of the beast, still ineffective. A sudden violent shudder goes through the golem and Andrew suddenly emerges with a loud “Gross!” as the creature is rendered in two.
With there being two half-golems suddenly, Willow shouts for everyone to pour on keeping the sections from re-merging, and cutting off more sections.
The smaller bits of Flesh Monster are suddenly vulnerable to the counter magics allowing Julie and Clive to start rendering the flesh blobs into blobs of inanimate flesh.
Commentary: I kind of liked this fight against the animated Flesh Monster, especially the acknowledgement that blunt and sharp trauma wouldn’t be effective against it because of its pliability and merging capabilities. But I do question why Buffy and Spike at least wouldn’t have left it to the gang to battle, while they focused on the real bad guy in the room. Again, there seems to be some bad tactics going on and Buffy and Spike should both have enough experience not to fight the robot, when the robot-master is within striking distance.
That just feels too convenient so that The Sculptor isn’t stopped here and now before he can put his “manipulate the Scooby Gang’s weak points” master plan into action.
Page 12: In the aftermath of the battle, Spike complains that the puppet master got away again but Willow offers she’ll try to track him down before he can rebuild another golem army.
In the meantime, Andrew checks on Julie and Clive. Clive offers that Andy saved them both and he doesn’t know how to thank him. Andrew has an idea…
… And takes Clive into a Movie-Hero Kiss!
Commentary: Wow. I didn’t see them going there, actually. I was sure that this would be more of the “is Andrew sexual at all” teasing, but it appears that this arc is meant to stop beating around the bush as far as who likes who. Buffy and Spike are kissing and Andrew is certainly not acting asexual or confused at the moment.
I like it! Let’s keep pushing the gang forward into relationships.
Page 13: Xan is happy on Andrew’s behalf, but Rupert is just irritated that he’s the only one who apparently can’t find a resolution to his loneliness at the moment. He tells Xander to stop bothering him so he can focus on burning the fleshy remains of their golem before they all catch The Plague.
Meanwhile, Andy and Clive talk about Andrew’s sudden surprising but welcomed forwardness. But as they do so, Andy notices Clive getting heavier. They both fall onto the floor, as Andrew finds himself returned to normal from the potion’s effects.
Clive offers that the potion must’ve been empowering him to defeat the monster and that’s been accomplished.
Page 14: While Andrew suddenly realizes that he just did the guy-kisses-guy thing, in public, and without thinking it through first, Xander comes up and tosses an arm around his shoulders. He manages to fabulous-his-way through super-supportive guy, while Andrew just gets more and more uncomfortable.
Finally, Andy suddenly says he needs to go and nearly runs out of the packing plant. Xander offers that maybe he over-enthused his gay support and Clive offers maybe by a little bit.
Commentary: That was annoying. Not Andrew’s sudden panic attack over kissing Clive - that was fine, and obviously his boldness was part of the potion’s effects. No, it was Xander who irritated me. Not only was his enthusiasm overdone… (Only ‘a little bit’ Clive? I think you‘re just being kind)… but he nearly turned into a sashaying sister himself. I mean, really -- there’s support and then there is TONE IT DOWN. Xan doesn’t even notice the line as he rushes past it.
And I worry about Andrew now that the potion isn’t propping him up. It’s very possible that Andy wasn’t ready to figure out where his attractions lie.
Page 15: Meanwhile, Spike has grabbed Buffy’s attention for that talk he wanted at the apartment. He starts to apologize for the way he bumbled in the cemetery, but Buffy says that he was actually right and she knows that she was acting impulsive and stupid after they’d spent so much time and effort to reach a true friendship.
She’s happy that he didn’t ignore the possible complications afterward for a spontaneous roll in the hay.
Page 16: Spike thanks Buffy for the pretty speech about not screwing up their friendship, but Spike tells her there is one problem: He’s in love with her.
Page 17: Both rush back to Xander and Spike’s apartment and start getting rid of their clothing.
Page 18: Next door, Xander complains to Dawn that he can hear his figures smashing off of the shelves. Dawn wonders if they’re in a Three’s Company situation and imagining her sister and Spike are up to wild times when really they’re doing something completely innocent.
They listen for a moment and Xan confirms that they’re definitely not doing anything innocent.
Page 19: Rupert is also at Dawn’s place playing out his frustrations with the video game, but the noise of Spike and Buffy banging on the walls drives him to an outburst about their selfishness.
Dawn offers that the two of them have been lonely for a long time and deserve some slack. But Rupert isn’t to be calmed. Xan points out that Rupert probably didn’t get much more than now anyway since he was old.
To Rupert’s pissed glare, he backtracks that sex isn’t that important and there are other things to focus on. Unfortunately, he can’t think of an example currently.
Dawn offers that Global Warming is more important, but Xander points out that Giles can’t do anything about Global Warming and he was hoping to give Rupert something else to do, seemingly forgetting that they’re actually talking about Giles in front of Giles. Dawn considers that it really depends on Rupert’s interests. She offers he could focus on development of his magic, or his academics, or… tweed….
Rupert storms out.
Commentary: We call that “being fuckstrated”, and clearly Rupert has a horrible case of it. I really do wish they’d aged him up a bit more though, if we’re going to be talking about his sex life. He’s so TWELVE…, at least physically.
I really hope that there comes a time soon when he can rage freely on Faith and Angel for bringing him back, not to mention his Great Aunts who are actually the ones responsible for his coming back de-aged [because he was so cute at that age… selfish!].
Page 20: Dawn feels pity for Rupert, but Xan offers that he had made it through puberty without sex so it isn’t as big a deal as Giles is making it out to be.
There is more wall slamming from next door and Xan jokes about Buffy and Spike “making sandwiches”. He and Dawn sit down for the game that Giles abandoned.
Page 21: Next door, Buffy is sleeping in Spike’s arms. He berates himself for being able to fall asleep, on the off chance that she’ll not be there when he wakes up.
He nods off.
Meanwhile out on the street a couple walks down the block while a shadow follows and then startles them.
Page 22: The person turns out to be Spike… or at least a nightmare Spike. Both of the couple have their throats torn out.
In the bedroom, Spike wakes up with a snarl in full vamp-face. Buffy continues to blissfully sleep as Spike calms himself down with the insistence that it was just a dream.
Commentary: OH! The first thing that came to mind with this ending sequence is that this is the exact same thing happening to Angel right now! Obviously, this cannot be a coincidence. Especially, if we find out next issue that the couple is not only real, but was only just killed… like the nuns apparently were in London [Angel & Faith, S2, I5].
Something, it appears, is once again changing among the vampires as the New Seed tries to spread its magical influence to encompass Earth, while the Sentient Magic of Magic Town fights back.
The Good: Buffy and Spike finally stop only teasing the Spuffy and I'm onboard with it [but I hasten to add, only because Spander won't be a thing].
I continue really liking Xander and Spike as roommates and talking buddies.
I like The Sculptor and his gruesome powers [with a caveat].
I love that Angel's earlier nightmare in his series is being hinted at not only a nightmare and now not an isolated incident with Spike now having a whopper himself.
The Bad: Buffy and Spike are particularly badly used when the gang confront The Sculptor as they waste effort on the Flesh Puppet when the actual bad guy was easily within striking distance of either of them.
Other Thoughts: I have a bit of doubt about Xander being so immediately on Spike's side in his getting back together with Buffy. Despite the friendship, it just feels too sudden a change in Xan's position on Buffy/Spike to me.
It's nice to see Andy admitting attraction to anyone and the gay kiss was fine. But there is a small issue... really small issue... Clive does nothing for me as a character. I don't know what it is but this title just doesn't have interesting side characters: Robert, Clive, Julie - I just don't care about them enough to want to see them regularly.
Although I like The Sculptor as the bad guy, I really wanted him to stay out of sight and be the master manipulator he claimed to be. His last two attacks have been blunt and blunderous.
I did like that gross Amalgamated Flesh Beast, but the fight itself was dull and full of stupid tactics.
I understand Rupert's frustrations with his current predicament, but his outbursts are really feeling over the top. I'd much rather see him struggling more privately than his temper tantrums.
The Score: I wanted to love this issue more as we finally have Buffy and Spike jumping into their relationship again after a LOT of teasing and we have an open acknowledgement that Andrew does have some sexual desire in him somewhere. But I found everything kind of "meh" and although I don't hate Megan's artwork -- I'm also not so sure that it's effective for any scenes that aren't jokey. There is something slightly too cartoony in it.
3.0 out of 5 stars
Next Up: Angel & Faith, S2, issue 11