Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 26
"Own It" part I
Script: Christos Gage, Artwork: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt [Comicraft]
Cover Art: Steve Morris
Blurb: Despite their need to work together (both on writing the new rules of magic in the Vampyr book and on the fighty), the Scoobies are not getting along - or, as with Dawn and Xander, they are stranded in the other dimensions. The vengeance demon D'Hoffryn has been a constant influence on the new rules - so he is kind of super powerful now. Unfortunately, Buffy can't see that D'Hoffryn is the Big Bad she should have been fighting all along, because all she wants right now is to get Dawn back to Earth...
Page 01: We open in the exile dimension in which Dawn and Xander have stayed, to stop a dimensional invasion.
Dawn tells Xan that in addition to disintegrating gods now, she can also tell what's safe to eat. And, more in tune with her actual powers [yeah, I'm being a bit snarky about this sudden non-portal related traits her powers are showing], she can see the multiple doors leading to other dimensions around them. Including the one which can lead them back to Earth, if only opening it wouldn't cause the dimensions to merge and destroy everything.
Page 02: Xan tries to buck up Dawn's spirits by reminding her how often Willow slips between dimensions and assuring her that she'll find a way to retrieve them in no time. He suggests though that they could find something tastier to eat then mushrooms by asking the locals for recommendations.
Which he attempts to do with overacted friendliness. And which gets him nearly disembowled.
Fortunately, Dawn's expanded powers make her the de facto goddess of this new realm after atomizing the last one. She shrinks the demon attacker, who begs forgiveness and offers that some local fruits may be what they seek.
Dawn tells him this will be his only do-over.
Page 03: Suddenly, Xan shouts out in pain, feeling like something just stung him. The demon who wanted to eat Xander's entrails, but now wants to stay on Dawn's good side tells them they must run for the caves. Apparently "The Devouring Rains" come semi-regularly to this area, consuming anyone who is unlucky enough to be caught in them without shelter.
Dawn throws up an umbrella shield until they can reach relative safety together, where they meet a few more demons also running from the acidic rains.
Dawn asks how often this happens, and is told it happens a lot. Our new friendly-demon tells Dawn that they've been unable to build any permanent dwellings because the rain comes and eats through the rooftops. Xander intrigues the demon with a little concept called 'slanted roofing'.
Commentary: Hm. Okay Super-Dawn... I think this story is going to be a bit dull if there is zero danger to you.
Page 04: Meanwhile, Buffy and Spike are trying to track down a route from Earth to Anharra. They're in Los Angeles smashing up mystical retail stores to pressure Mr. Shopkeep into helping. But he insists that he doesn't know a route to Anharra because it's a largely empty dimension with nothing of value.
Page 05: With a quick retrieval of Dawn stymied again, Buffy turns attention to information on The Soul Glutton and The Mistress.
Our Storekeep tells her that they've not been heard from since their slaughter in Silicon Valley, but that there have been demons owing them favors a lot lately, buying up mystical weaponry for a big battle. He offers that he'd be glad to share a list of names, if she'll just stop tearing up his shop.
Buffy tells him the longer he takes, the more stuff she'll break....
Commentary: Oh, Buffy. Didn't we learn from the bank robbing fiasco that with the magical community out in the open, the Slayers need to tread a little more carefully?
I'll try to be a bit more understanding here because of the Dawn and Xan situation, but this all felt a bit heavy handed.
Page 06: Sometime later, between one rain storm and another, Xander has built a domicile for the demons to show off the benefits of the Gabled Roof. It's a big hit. Xander tells 'em they ain't seen nuthin' yet as he extolls the virtues of doors, windows, heat and indoor plumbing.
One of the awed demons asks what indoor plumbing describes and Dawn whispers in his ear. He lights in a smile and wonders if Xan is worshipped where they come from.
Page 07: Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, Buffy is raging about nobody coming up with any leads to get to Dawn. Willow explains that Lake is doing what she can, but extradimensional travel is very new to the government. And Giles offers that Sundrop and he are working with the Fae's resources, but since their natural interests are forests, and Anharra doesn't have any, they know very little about the place.
Buffy snots rudely that the real problem, as she sees it, is that they're both much more interested in their new relationships rather than finding her sister and their best friend.
Commentary: Okay, Buffy! Now, that is something that I'd expect Xan to bust out when getting pissed at you. I kind of wanted Willow to reach over and smack her across the face.
Page 08: Spike points out that considering their batting zero, that wasn't very fair. Willow gets frowny and finger-pointy and tells Buffy that since she's so worried about Dawn, Wills is going to overlook what she just said. And Giles points out that they're all doing triple duty between trying to retrieve Dawn, find their two Major Bad Guys, and fighting the demon hordes they already gave safe passage to... the latter two being things that Buffy has virtually stopped doing, despite the fact that eliminating those distractions would free up the time to actually dedicate to her sister and Xan.
Buffy says screw this, and reaches for the Vampyr book for a short cut.
Page 09: Giles shouts at her that she mustn't play around with the book, and she snots that Harmony made unicorns with it and they all used it to increase the Mystic Council's powers, so why shouldn't she use it to retrieve their family members. Spike, unusually being the voice of reason, sides with Giles on not risking the Monkey Paw tendencies of writing in the book.
Buffy turns on him for first blaming her for allowing Dawn to stay behind, and now stopping her from actually getting her back.
Willow butts in to tell Buffy that Spike and Giles are right on this one, as she slips the book out of her hands. She promises to start composing what they'll write to minimize the impacts, if it turns out to be their only way. But she presses Buffy for a few more weeks of trying other alternatives.
Buffy gives a disheartened 'fine' and retreats to her room.
Commentary: I like here that the alterations made specifically for the Mystic Council is brought up here, because the latter pages of this issue is going to be all about D'Hoffryn and the horrible, horrendous mistake that was made by all of the gang in trusting who very clearly should not have been.
And just to toot my own horn: I TOLD YOU SO.
Page 10: Back in Anharra, work proceeds on more houses, turning barren plain into a hamlet... or whatever is smaller than a hamlet.
A fight breaks out however when one of our builders doesn't put in the correct Bay Window where he wanted it, driving him to decide he has to eviscerate the weaker demon for dishonoring him. Xander steps in, and it's very, very apparent that he's been pulling a Dr. Mike on them.
He reminds 'Bub' that anger is a masking emotion, and that he really cares about him and not because he's big and mean and can cause agony, but just because he's him.
Commentary: I shudder.
Page 11: Very soon, Bub is a bawling mess in Xan's comforting arms. Xander describes it as a real breakthrough and has everyone clap for Bub's courage. He encourages the others to speak up with their own past pains and traumas as a way to build community.
Dawn watches this with amusement.
Commentary: Okay... yeah... uh, we can go ahead and leave Xan and Dawn alone for a while now and get caught up on them later... like, really later.
Page 12: Back in San Fran, Willow comes up to Buffy's room and tells her that she's called a meeting with the Council to discuss using the book to retrieve Dawn and Xan, if it becomes necessary. Buffy is staring forlornly at a photograph of her and her sis at a cotton candy stand.
Wills reminds her that they need to be unified in front of the Council and appear to have their crap together when they get there.
Buffy tells her it takes time to put on her game face, when she wants to curl into a ball, but to let her know when they get there.
Page 13: Willow leaves her in her room, telling her that D'Hoffryn is going to talk to the rest of them now.
But we see that D'Hoffryn is too busy KILLING OFF ALL OF THEM to talk about any meetings.
Commentary: Including the Fairie Queen... sorry I doubted you, Fae Royalty. And that staff through the back was a pretty bad way to go. So sorry.
Page 14: Willow continues to voiceover to Buffy that he's going to impress on them how important this decision is, so they should have a decision on using the book soon ... or as she states it, "this'll all be over soon".
Ironically, of course, as we see D'Hoffryn slaughter off the last few Council members.
Commentary: D'Hoffryn!! How, how, how could our gang have so trusted him with more power, despite their knowing what he is and what his whole deal has been?
Page 15: In Anharra, Dawn and Xander have introduced theatre to their little community.
Page 16: Dawn thanks Xan, and the others for keeping her entertained so she would be slightly less homesick. It also appears that she is growing closer to Xander again as well.
For all of Buffy's angsting back home, Dawn and Xander are actually doing just fine.
Page 17: One of our demons tells Dawn that the other strangers who came there have never been so welcoming or shared their secrets, despite having comforts far beyond theirs.
This is the first time that Dawn has heard about other strangers in Anharra. Dawn exclaims that if there are others here, maybe they know a way to travel to Earth, or at least to help Buffy find them. Demon tells Dawn that as Goddess she of course may try to speak to them, but it's been their experience that they are dreadful and spiteful creatures called... lawyers.
We see the entrance to a cave with carved steps leading up to it. From the cave emits a sickly yellowish-green light. And on the wall at the entrance is a Wolf's Head, a Ram's Head, and a Hart's Head..!
Inside the cave, the local office manager is making a desperate call to a receptionist and trying to be put through to the Senior Partners to let them know about the changes going on in little-backwater dimension, Anharra right now.
Commentary: OH-oh. We know from Angel S6, Spike's Vegas Adventure and a few mentions sprinkled throughout Buffy -- including the Tin Can debacle that Wolfram & Hart's influence has been very much dwindled in the past few years. The arrival of Myr was kind of the camel that broke the camel's back after their embarrassing and expensive Hell-Angeles exploits and they were escaping Earth's dimension to rebuild their power base.
It now appears that they may have a way back in to being power brokers on Earth. This would be especially interesting if we're setting up here an eventual alliance between W & H and the Scooby Gang to stop D'Hoffryn. If we could tie in Angel & Faith, and the eventual darkening of Willow in Fray's future timeline all in this, that would be fabulous!
Current D'Hoffryn certainly appears to be the overwhelming risk that could lead to a chaotic season with a lot of players weaving in and out of the narrative, if his threat is carried over to next season.
... Or W & H could just prove to be lame still, and end up humiliating themselves some more... which they truly have coming.
Page 18: In San Francisco, D'Hoffryn arrives at Buffy's apartment. She wonders where the rest of the Council are, and he assures her that they're there in spirit and they can meet without them.
Buffy tells D'Hoffryn she's intent on using the Book to get Dawn back from Anharra. A book that is lying out in easy reach.
D'Hoffryn tells Buffy that he could understand her reluctance to use it before now, recognizing as she must how ill equipped she and her little friends are to wield such power. He picks up the books, which everyone is shocked at as the wards around it should've kept him from putting his mitts on it.
Willow, belatedly, warns something is wrong.
Page 19: Willow lets loose with a power blast and a command for him to drop the Vampyr Book. Something which he easily waves off, by telling her that he thinks the book should stay in his hands, considering how recklessly she's acting right now with nearly damaging it.
Spike grabs a sword, and Buffy has her New Scythe... but neither can do much against a kinetic field that slams and pins them to the nearby walls.
D'Hoffryn spouts that he can't be harmed by them now, which is the only reason he's not annihilating them all.
Page 20: Giles lets loose with an eldritch electrical attack, but D'Hoffryn grabs them right out of the air. Giles recognizes also that his kinetic attack on Buffy and Spike is the redirecting power given to one of the Council chairs, and his imperviousness to magic is another one.
D'Hoffryn points out he received their powers by killing them, and further explicates that the rules in the book state that should any of the Councilmembers prove to be unable to carry out their duties, their expanded powers would be equally divided among the other chairs until such time as a replacement can be chosen.
He's the only other Council member able to serve, and ergo has all of their powers appointed to him.
Commentary: DID I NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THESE EXPANDED POWERS AND HOW THEY COULD COMBINE TO MAKE THEM TOO POWERFUL!?! Of course, I hadn't anticipated the Council bylines leaving one member with all of their powers, but the worry was definitely there.
Damn it, damn it, damn it!
Page 21: Buffy shouts at D'Hoffryn for playing the wise Obi-Wan, while manipulating them into doing what he wanted. He tells her of course he did... and they obeyed like dull-witted sheep.
He sarcasms "If only you'd known I was a soulless demon whose reason for being is revenge... Oh, wait. You did."
[That sounded so much like Ethan Rayne that I laughed out loud and wondered... just for a delirious moment... if Faux-Ghost-Anya was Ghost-Rayne... lol... I'm laughing again...]
D'Hoffryn goes on to ask them if they really think they're the ones to have such power as to shape the fundamental laws of a universe and tells them that he's doing them a favor by taking that responsibility from their shoulders. Meanwhile, Willow and Giles are continuing with their pointless magical castings.
D'Hoffryn tells everyone that they can, "Continue with your small, self-absorbed lives... your romantic travails and dramatic outbursts... your gradiose weeping and wailing", and assures them that the world is in good hands now... his.
Commentary: I hate D'Hoffryn. But, I do love his observations and throwing all of our characters' personal distractions in their faces like this. I just had a good time with his lines here, and his faux-caring attitude over "relieving" them of the weight of the Vampyr book.
This was way, way more fun than Xan/Dawn in Anharra and I wish we'd seen more of this D'Hoffryn setting up his counterparts for their deaths instead of spending so many pages cutting back to the demon dimension hijinks.
Page 22: D'Hoffryn then lifts the roof off of the apartment building in order to fly away with the book in his greedy arms. He warns the gang that his patience and forebearance have limits and he suggests they pray they do not meet him again.
Our gang are left with their utterly disastrous decisions in trusting a Demonic Vengeance Master for advice.
The Good: D'Hoffryn as a bigger than ever bad... directly because Buffy and company set the pieces in place for him, while believing that they'd protected themselves against this sort of power grab.
I'm quite intrigued with W & H making a return via Anharra and their coming interactions with Dawn.
I had a good chuckle over D'Hoffryn's lines to our impotent heroes.
The Bad: I'm trying to ride with Dawn here, but her being a virtual goddess is... silly. And dull. And silly.
Other Thoughts: I do kinda like how Xan bonds with the demon who was going to cut him up and eat him, and I did kind of like how Dawn and he are building this whole new community of new-values demons. But... it's all just a bit overdone -- especially when we start in on the Dr. Mike life lessons. It feels a little ridiculous.
The Score: Too much of this issue felt like we were spinning our wheels and the Dawn/Xan new agey demon reformations wasn't amusing enough for the amount of space it took up. But the ending was very strong with a funny and scary D'Hoffryn... and all directly because of our Scooby Gang's actions.
3.50 out of 5 stars