Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 13
“Love Dares You” part 3
Writer: Christos Gage & Nicholas Brendon, Artwork: Megan Levens, Colors: Dan Jackson,
Lettering: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Buffy and the gang struggle with the 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 open sometime later after Buffy and Spike’s night of passion.
Buffy wakes up and glances over to see Spike still with her. So she asks if he’s turned evil on her. The look on Spike’s face has her rethinking her joke, but she tells him she’s a bit gun shy about the mornings after now. She clarifies that it’s a “no” on his evilness, then.
Commentary: Okay, so I do appreciate the whole Angel thing still hanging over Buffy, especially when it comes to vampires. But for that to be the first thing out of her mouth in greeting [okay, she did say “Hey.” first] did feel a bit tactless.
I liked that hurt-surprised look on Spike’s face that has her apologizing, though.
Page 02: Buffy double checks that Spike is okay, as he felt off to her even before she made her tasteless joke about Angel and her. Spike tells her that he’s fine, explaining he just had a weird dream.
A flashback shows us the recently slaughtered couple in which Spike was the aggressor.
Commentary: And as mentioned in at the end of last issue, this is a clear reflection on something bigger than just Spike happening, as Angel also had a severe nightmare of killing a bunch of nuns, only to have a group of nuns actually be slaughtered in reality.
It remains to be seen if Angel and Spike are actually killing during their sleep, or whether they’re simply receiving some sort of psychic hocus-pocus.
Page 03: Spike and Buffy talk flirt briefly before Dowling texts to Spike’s phone requesting his involvement in a case. Buffy asks if he wants some help, but he’s sure that this is just the ID part, not the fighting part and it’ll be dull.
We see by the two people’s bodies that for being a vampire attack, this was pretty savage.
Page 04: On scene, Spike is taken aback by the victims. Dowling intuits that Spike may have known them, but he denies this - stating that they looked familiar for a moment, but he’s sure he’s never met them.
Robert goes on to point out how… wasteful… this attack was. Despite the neck bites, indicating a vampire, most of the couple’s blood has been left sprayed around the attack area.
Spike agrees that it’s strange unless there is a personal message being left by the display or the demon was just really enjoying himself. As Robert checks out more of the scene, Spike can’t pull his eyes away from the doomed victims.
Page 05: Back at his and Xander’s apartment, Xan wonders if Spike is confessing to him that he killed the couple in the alley. Spike insists that he couldn’t have, as the attack would have left him drenched in blood. It’s not possible that he could’ve snuck out on Buffy, slaughtered the couple, cleaned up every trace of them on his person and then snuck back in to be there when Buffy awoke… at least it’s 90% not possible.
But Spike is positive that the couple in the alley were the ones he attacked in his dreams. Which makes the other 10% possible that he did do it so concerning. He tells Xan that’s why he needed to tell somebody who he can trust.
Xander totally understand what Spike means: Just ignore the crucifix and stake he’s now holding with a worried smile.
Commentary: I really liked this scene with Spike and Xander, and it says something [though what exactly, I’m not sure yet] that the vampire would go to the butt monkey over telling Buffy about any of this. It’s like Xan and Spike are turning into an old fashioned ‘The Odd Couple’.
Page 06: Spike gives Xander a disbelieving glare at his resorting to anti-vampire accoutrements. Xan points out that it isn’t like Spike being controlled to kill people and not remember it later hasn’t happened before. He suggests they need the minds of Willow and Rupert to unravel what all of this means, but Spike objects strenuously.
Page 07: Spike points out how much history is lying between he and the Scooby Gang and Giles and Wills are both already going to be on edge over his getting back into an intimate relationship with Buffy again.
But Xander insists that they both know Spike wouldn’t hurt anyone on purpose anymore and they’ll be more than thorough in researching what could be happening. Xan insists that they’re his friends, too and it’ll be fine.
Page 08: In Giles’ apartment, Spike is yelling at Xander that it isn’t fine. He’s been strung up by crimson bands of magic off of the floor.
Both Giles and Willow tells Xan and Spike that they have to be extra cautious, especially after that mind control stuff with the First Evil. Spike even understands that, despite the discomfort, but he asks that nobody tell Buffy about any of this… not yet.
Page 09: Willow tells Spike that she’s not going to lie to her. He doesn’t want her to, he’s just asking that it not be mentioned until there is an explanation.
Xan simplistically thinks that a few magic scans and they’ll be done testing Spike for mind control magicks or parasites in a manner of minutes. Willow and Giles disabuse him of that notion. Willow apologetically says that some of their invasive tests are going to get painful.
Xan tries to object on Spike’s behalf, but the vampire tells him to let them do what they have to. He asks Xander to take Buffy away from the house with some excuse so they’ll not be interrupted.
Page 10: Xander’s solution to keeping Buffy out of the way is to go see Andrew. He wants to apologize to Andy for acting spazzy at the sight of his kissing Clive and he wants Buffy there to try to keep his other foot out of his mouth.
Xan and Buffy both let Andy know that they’re totally supportive and that it isn’t a big deal in the slightest who he wants to date. But it’s a big deal to Andrew, mostly because something that Buffy and Xander admit to knowing for some time now has come as a complete surprise to Andrew himself. He wonders what it says about him that he wouldn’t know something so basic about himself.
Page 11: Buffy asks if Andrew really had no clue at all and he admits that maybe he did on some level. But he goes on to explain that the potion gave him a sense of confidence that he’d never had before. When he kissed Clive while under its influence, he was like, “Duh. Okay. That explains a lot.”
But then the potion wore off and he was just him again. Standing there having just kissed his first guy in front of everyone.
Xander apologizes again for being way too enthusiastic in the pride-support, and embarrassing him in front of the guy he was into. But Andrew actually appreciates Xan because he made a big deal out of it. For Andy, this is all a big deal and he says it helps to know that it was a major thing for somebody else, too.
Page 12: Xander pointedly says that some of the people in the room take into account what others are feeling, which Buffy asides that she won’t even dignify with a response. She returns to Andrew’s self-consciousness and Andy admits he ran because of Clive, not Xan’s over-emoting.
This confuses Buffy and Xander as Clive didn’t seem to mind being kissed at all. But Andrew’s problem is that he was muscular and superhero-y when he kissed him, but now he’s just the skinny, geeky guy again. He’s told that he’s feeling vulnerable and that’s normal, but hiding himself isn’t the way to deal.
Page 13: Buffy goes on to remind Andrew that he keeps doing the same thing over and over. He keeps running into a fantasy land and then saying that he’ll never do it again but as soon as he’s afraid, that is exactly what he returns to.
She tells him that she gets being afraid of being hurt in new and horrible ways, but if he doesn’t take a chance on something new, he’ll never be able to escape the pain he’s gotten too used to. She tells him that he deserves to find some happiness.
Andrew wonders. After the things he did that ended up hurting people [and killing Jon, by implication] but Buffy cuts him off. She reminds him of all of the things that he did to her [in Season 7 and the mind-in-robot swap of Season 9] and she is still telling him that he deserves to take his shot at finding happiness.
Page 14: Back at Giles’ apartment, it’s evening. Giles and Willow have apparently been at the research on Spike’s body for hours and haven’t found anything.
Spike starts to admit that he may have killed those people for no other reason than that a part of him wanted to. He suggests they may need to stake him and be done with it. But Willow is never one to give up. She suggests that since whatever Spike experienced happened when he was sleeping, they should send him to dreamtime now and see what happens.
Page 15: Meanwhile, Xander and Buffy are walking home still talking about Andrew. Xan thinks he should have shared all of the apps available to help the newly gay man find dates, and goes on to start listing all of the “types” of men available. Buffy reminds him that she has the internet too and insists that Andy just needs some time to work things out for himself and he’ll be fine.
Giles rings up Buffy.
In his apartment, Spike is reacting strongly in his sleep state and through Willow’s magic, they can see a boarded up building and a pair of vampires. Giles suggests to Buffy it could be a hidden nest and she should check it out.
Thankfully Buffy and Xander are close by to do so.
Page 16: When Buffy and Xan go in, she tries to have him hang back but Xander reminds her he’s been doing this sort of thing nearly as long as she has.
Of course, that was when they were fighting the Buffy-standard fang-faces. Now the new breed has all those nifty shape shifting powers at night.
As Buffy finds that her stake failed to penetrate the heart of the female vampire, the male takes on the form of the man-bat. Xander is about to help her, but from behind him a sudden raging fire roars into life.
Page 17: The fire quickly rages within the building, but it distracts the vampires as much as it does Xander. Buffy is able to use this to her advantage, using the man-bat for leverage to kick her stake the rest of the way through the female vamp, dusting her.
At the same time, the male vampire is pushed backward into the raging inferno - which is what he gets for not misting.
Buffy next grabs up Xan in a fireman’s carry and leaps them both through some boarded up windows to the outside, just as the entire building goes up in flames. Buffy tells Xander that this wasn’t any nest, but a trap designed for her by using undead bait to get her attention.
Xander admits to her that there is something that he probably should’ve mentioned before now….
Commentary: I really liked these last two pages for the action, but especially Buffy’s high kicking that stake through the female vamp! That was pretty awesome. I also like that this wasn’t just two random vampires, but that they were set up to deliberate draw the Slayer into a burning inferno as a way to dispatch her. I see the Sculptor’s hands in this, doing what he was set up to do -- manipulate the Scooby Gang in order to eliminate them.
How this fits in with Spike though? That’s still a mystery. I can’t believe that his dreaming/killing isn’t tied directly to what is happening to Angel. Their cases are too similar, unless the Sculptor has a far more wide ranging plot that also encompasses Angel and Faith as Buffy’s allies. Could we be working up to a proper crossover tale?
Page 18: Sometime later, Buffy rages into Giles’ apartment.
Spike has just gotten off the phone with Dowling, who has shared that the vampire couple were the ones that had been murdered in the alley. But the department had followed the vampire victim protocols in place, securing their morgue drawers with garlic and crosses to keep them in place in case they were turned.
This leads Willow to conclude that somebody let them free … and it wasn’t another vampire, which gets Spike off the hook. Someone not him is setting them up.
But back to Buffy - she’s pissed that Xan pulled her away so that her friends could conspire behind her back to keep her in the dark about something she should’ve known about… like Spike not killing innocents being unclear at some point.
Spike tells Buffy not to be angry at her friends because he asked them to distract her while he was finding out what was what. He asks that he have a few moments with Buffy alone.
Commentary: Hmmm… I’m up in the air about this development. Obvs Buffy had to be brought up to speed, but I thought it’d be next issue. It feels a little empty to have everyone hiding Spike’s experiences from her for not even one full issue before everything is brought out into the light anyway. Kind of … what was the point, then?
Page 19: In the hallway, Giles tells them that he actually feels a bit sorry for Spike, especially since they don’t know much more than they did that morning. But Xander opines that telling Buffy everything was the way to go, and that secrets never lead anywhere good.
Dawn comes home from her day of classes, only to wonder what is going on. Xander pulls her aside to fill her in.
Rupert starts to suggest that he and Willow consult somethingy, but she interrupts to say that she just needs a bit of time, herself. She has something that she needs to see to.
This turns out to be telling Aluwyn that they have to break up.
Commentary: It’s weird to discuss pacing for a comic book, but this is the term that keeps coming to mind in this one. I’ve got a problem with the dramatic pacing in this issue.
On this page specifically, it feels rushed for Willow to go from telling Giles she has something to take care of, to an immediate panel of her telling her muse they need to break up. It feels to me like what exactly Willow is leaving this minor crisis for should’ve been held off and then revealed on the following page -- over even two pages later with an interruption to see Spike and Buffy talking.
It felt very much to me like we were missing a scene break to have Wills suddenly be in front of Aluwyn in the same page that she’s telling Giles [without revealing what and why] that she needs to go out for a while.
Page 20: Willow goes on to tell Aluwyn that she can’t be with somebody who she can’t trust and the Trickster’s very nature means that playing games and hiding truths means she can’t be trusted. Willow needed that at one time, but she needs something different now because of how she has changed since they met.
The mystic isn’t pleased to say the least. At first she’s confused and offers to try to change but Willow tells her that she probably can’t because as an immortal she’s very slow to adjust but more importantly, it would be wrong for Willow to ask or expect her to stop being herself.
Aluwyn is then indignant that Willow would be so selfish and self-involved. She tells her that just because she can’t give her everything she wants, doesn’t mean they can’t be together. She tells Willow that she didn’t expect monogamy and Wills can get whatever else she needs elsewhere. But Wills tries to explain that she expects a monogamous relationship from and for herself. She can’t be the person that she wants and needs to be if she’s with the Trickster.
Page 21: Now Aluwyn is pissed. Willow tries to suggest they can still be in one another’s lives [the ol’ “let’s just be friends” routine], but the mage tells Willow she had best hope that they don’t cross paths again, revealing some of her true colors.
She whisks Willow out of her sight, depositing her back in the apartment she shares with Buffy and Dawn.
She finds Buffy there with a pint of ice cream. She agrees that she needs some too, today.
Page 22: Some time later, Buffy is throwing the empty container out. She and Willow discuss the problems with mortal and immortals trying to make it work, but Wills remains supportive of her and Spike if Buffy wants to keep trying.
For the moment, Buffy does.
The Good: So far, I'm liking the way that Spike and Buffy are being handled. I also like this mystery about Spike.
I also continue to like the Spike/Xander dynamic.
The Bad: Nothing was badly done.
Other Thoughts: I like that Andrew is getting a personal life, or at least reaching for having a personal life but I did feel like his discussion with Xander and Buffy went on a bit longer than necessary. I did like the point though where Buffy confronted Andrew about the things he put her through, and she still wants him to find somebody to be happy with. It echoed Buffy's shouting at Angel that she knew exactly what type of things he'd done when evil, because he did them to her but without the pain and soapy drama and magic shaving cream snow. I was disappointed though that Jonathon didn't come up at all in Andrew's wallowing. It felt like he should've been stated as being why Andy feels like he's not sure he deserves to be made happy. Plus, y'know - it would've been nice if it wasn't all about what he'd done to Buffy directly.
I'm gonna list pacing here. Most of the issue wasn't too much of a problem, but there was the too long Andrew scene and the too short "hide this from Buffy" thing and the weird lack of a break in the scene where Willow is leaving to meet with Aluwyn.
The Score: I don't know. I think I just wanted more out of this issue. I liked the Xan/Spike interaction the most and the too short battle scene was nice but there is so much talking about feelings in this one. I wish we'd spent some time with our villains just to break up the chatfests a little bit.
3.25 out of 5 stars
Next up: Supernatural's "Route 666"