Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 28
“Own It: Taking Ownership”
Writer: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: While concentrating on rescuing Dawn and Xander from another dimension, Buffy and the Scoobies fell victim to the vengeance demon, D’Hoffryn’s treachery. Having assassinated the entire Magic Council and stolen the Vampyr book to take full control of the new rules of magic, D’Hoffryn intends to make himself invulnerable. Buffy, Willow, Spike, and Giles must put aside their recent differences and rally all the backup they can muster to defeat the Big Bad. For now, Dawn and Xander will have to be on their own…
Page 01: We open moments after Spike has told Buffy that they need a break. Now, Buffy stands gob smacked and asking him if he’s actually breaking up with her….
Spike explains that the reason D’Hoffryn was so able to pull his fast one is partly because he and she were too distracted by their problems with trying to be a couple. He goes on to tell Buffy that he was in a fantasy where true love just made everything easy, but having a real relationship between a mortal and an undead is filled with irreconcilable problems.
Page 02: Spike goes on to review his romantic history and assures Buffy that he knows their problems are a lot of his own fault. But he also thinks they should just quit now before it has to hurt worse later.
Page 03: Buffy gives him a “Y’know what? No.” and then goes on to tell him that she doesn’t have time to deal with an emotional mess right now. She digs out a sword and tells Spike that she needs to hit the road, she’ll not yet say where, but that she has an idea on how to get around D’Hoffryn’s powers. She asks Spike if he’s in for the fight, or out.
He’s in, of course.
Commentary: Okay. Well, putting aside the personal animosity I have to any more make up/break ups with Buffy and her vampires, I do like that this is being handled by Spike’s viewpoint. There are some good points that he’s making -- although this still feels like the basic refresher of Buffy and Angel’s problems before the curse came along to give them a much larger problem to not overcome. And I like Buffy’s short circuiting the discussion because, yes -- they do actually have a far more destructive issue that needs to be addressed at the moment.
Page 04: Meanwhile at the Navy base in San Diego, Willow’s security clearance has been revoked and she’s been ordered off of the base. She tries to argue that need to work together, but the base commander isn’t interested in anything she has to say, considering it was her and her disorganized friends who gave D’Hoffryn his new super powers and cost the lives of a submarine crew.
Wills pleads with Lake to find someone above the General who will listen, but Ms. Stevens tells her there isn’t anything she can do. She has to follow direct orders.
Page 05: Willow is escorted out, but as she goes she tells Lake that though the military-industrial complex helped her achieve things she couldn’t before, ultimately it’s the very fact that it’s an inflexible institution that is now in the way.
She further accuses Lake’s employers of only seeing herself as something that they could use as convenient, but can’t give a care about her when they’re done with her. Lake insists that Wills is being overly dramatic with the situation, but Wills leaves her with the impression that she’s not just been separated from the military, but that she’s actually leaving Stevens.
Commentary: I’m not sure really what to do with this breakup. I neither liked nor disliked Lake, although the relationship between her and Willow seemed to happen really fast.
I wouldn’t mind if this arc ends with Willow apologizing for letting her hurt over being fired push her into walking away, when none of it was Lake’s fault. If they wanted to salvage the relationship, that’d be fine. And it’d be fine if they don’t.
Page 06: Meanwhile, Dawn and Xander are continuing their journey leaping from portal to portal. They’re in the Dimension of Giant Shrimp, where they find out that they’re to be battered and deep fried.
Then it’s off to The Stairwell, in which they’re trapped in an Escher environment. Dawn complains that she can’t use her powers because she can’t get any bearings. But Xan and their demon companions tie themselves together in order to explore the maze until they come to the next gateway.
In the Forest of Doom, they meet a fanged rabbit in a top coat who insists that if they want to be pointed in the general direction of Earth, Xander will have to surrender his pants.
Commentary: These were cute, but I kind of was hoping that we’d spend actual time with Xan and Dawn’s journey toward home. Instead, we’re really just being given a whole new dimension per panel, being used as only humorous visual gags.
This feels, alas, like we’re not going to have and extended Missing in Action subplot where Xander and Dawn don’t get back/found and Buffy and the gang have to deal with the fact that they might really never be able to retrieve them. I’m not quite sure what the point of this was, since there isn’t enough time, nor does the intent seem to be there, to use this as a way to grow Xan and Dawn’s characters.
Page 07: In the Cyberhive, Xan is looking pretty fetching in Barbarian Wear. Also, they lose their traveler, Rancidus, who chooses to stay behind as the new world leader to worshipful bugs. He thanks his companions for showing him honor, love and the secrets of architecture. He now feels like he must pay it forward for the Termite People by reintroducing them to the secrets that they’re society lost: Greed, Sloth and Lust.
The next stop for Dawn, Xan and Bub is The Outer Madness, where the dimension is inhabited by a grey ooze. It’s apparent that there was some resistance, but Dawn has impressed the being there with her Key Powers, and making him far more cooperative.
He does have an interesting point when he tells Dawn that he’s seen inside her mind. He offers that she struggles with being ordinary on Earth, and if she would but stay, she could be so much more there with him. But Dawn’s mind isn’t on being a goddess, but getting back to her family.
Page 08: Buffy, meanwhile, has returned to the Throne Room of Archduchess Venobia, who hadn’t had a neck snap after all and was just rendered unconscious. When Buffy had left last time, she’d left a servant boy in charge but she now finds the Archduchess back in control. She shares with Buffy that some of them realize it’s useless to try to deny who they are.
But Buffy’s point in returning is to get Venobia’s assistance with “spreading the word” about some plan that we are not in the know of yet. Buffy does point out that her request will not involve Venobia confronting D’Hoffryn in any way, which buys her the demoness’ limited cooperation.
As they’re leaving, Buffy brings up what Spike said earlier about it being easier to break up now, rather than later.
Page 09: Buffy tells Spike that they did the easier thing before -- by letting D’Hoffryn have so much sway in writing the new rules of magic instead of taking the responsibility on themselves. And yes, there are doubts and real problems to their being together but they’re just different problems from the ones that Buffy had when she was with Riley… there is always going to be problems, because relationships are hard.
And maybe the fact that both Spike and she have a natural tendency to run when things get too messy is part of the problem.
Spike starts to ask if Buffy is saying that maybe breaking up isn’t the right thing to do, but she cuts him off that she was just thinking out loud. She puts the focus back on their overriding Mad Demon problem.
Page 10: While Buffy is wrestling with what she and Spike should do about them, Andrew is meeting with Clive to hash out Jon’s revelation about “what your friends really think about you”.
Andrew reads Clive the riot act over his talking about him behind their supposed friendship’s back. He’s also decided to just leave San Fran all together for Mykonos … or he’s just really being insanely overdramatic.
But Clive interrupts him to offer a brief point.
Commentary: Okay. Since we haven’t heard or seen Clive since The Sculptor’s demise, I was wondering if he was even still in the picture at all. This seems like a weird place and time to reintroduce him, especially since it feels like we’re ham handedly working on a theme here of … uh… forcing our characters to take responsibility for their own interpersonal relationships, maybe?
Xan/Dawn, Buffy/Spike and Lake/Willow would fit into this sort of narrative link if that is what we’re doing but I’m confused as to what ’lesson’ Giles/Sundrop were supposed to learn [maybe the ENTIRE relationship was Giles avoiding responsibility for… uh… yeah, I’m confused on this one]. And likewise, I don’t see a relationship responsibility lesson going on here with Andrew & Clive, since they were barely, barely dating, if that.
Page 11: Oh, look… Clive is on the same page as I am.
He tells Andrew that though he may have said the things he’s being accused of, it was in the context of being worried about Andrew. He tells him that he was concerned because he’d thought that they’d had real chemistry going on, but then Andrew vanished on him.
He goes on to say that he also was telling people that he admired Andrew’s bravery by doing what he does, facing things that would have Clive huddled into a ball.
Clive suggests to Andy that maybe the person who was telling him all of the bad things that Clive may have said was cherry picking and wasn’t acting out of genuine concern for him. He then wonders if these other ’so called friends’ that Andrew was ranting about are also having important context removed by whoever has been talking to Andy.
Page 12: Back with Dawn & Xan, they’ve arrived at Slaughterworld where they’ve obviously been in a long slog of battle. Xander is looking exhausted, but Dawn is happy. They’ve managed to get an Amulet of Revelation which is now showing her where the portals are leading ahead of time, so they’re not just suicidally skipping through. Yay!
From there, they arrive on a much more friendly and relaxing dimension. Bodaceia is filled with… well, gee guess….
Bodacious young ladies who’ve been without a man’s attention in too long. This is where Bub leaves the quest, as the dimension requires repopulation. Xan expresses that he totally gets it.
Page 13: From there, we skip over to Triptopia, a dimension of acid-tripping. Which also swaps Dawn and Xander’s heads onto one another’s bodies.
Dawn expresses amazement that Xan could always be feeling horny, while he uses her Key Powers to open the next dimension in order to avoid that embarrassing conversation.
Alas for both of them, the next stop turns out to be The Dimension of Darkest Fear. Dawn is assailed by visions of the monks reminding her that she isn’t a person, but a thing they created. And of Joyce telling Dawn that deep down inside, she knows that she’s the one who killed her.
Meanwhile, Xander is assaulted by his father on his being on the same road to becoming a bitter, broken down drunk. And Anya reminds Xander that Dawn can’t count on him because he abandons those he claims to love over and over.
Dawn tells Xander that she doesn’t think she can go on like this much longer, but Xander encourages her to just keep leaning on one another until they reach the next portal.
Commentary: And this is really here where I can see some of the potential we’ll not get on this cross-dimensional road trip because of the slipshod way we’re following Xan and Dawn for just snippets of time.
I’d love to see Dawn and Xander dealing with one another’s bodies while their minds are being overwhelmed by the Acid-Trip dimension. The Dimension of Darkest Fear could’ve been half an issue by itself with their psyches being torn at, and their fears driving them to stop trusting one another. Slaughterworld could’ve delved into Dawn’s real temptation and seduction by her power to stay and be the goddess others fear to cross.
But none of that is going to be explored because this whole thing is really a nothing-burger. It’s very disappointing.
Page 14: Back on Earth, Buffy is next convincing Vicki to help them with the “spread the word” campaign that Buffy is organizing, but whose details remain hidden from us.
After leaving the Club Coagulate, Buffy returns to the subject of her and Spike.
She tells him that she’s been thinking a lot about them while they’ve been out tracking down possible assistance. And, she’s not sure that giving up ‘them’ without a fight is the right thing for them to do.
Page 15: She tells Spike that she’s scared of them going bad, too but that she’s ready to face her fears rather than running away again. And she wants him to be willing to do so too, this time with also telling each other about what they’re afraid of. At least if they don’t work out, it’ll be for the right reasons instead of just not taking the risks.
Page 16: Spike admits to Buffy that he wasn’t being fair to her coming into the relationship. He’d grown to see her as a symbol of everything that he’d needed: His salvation and redemption. And now he sees how selfish it was trying to lay that on her.
But he goes on to tell her that he’s ready now to see her as a person. And yes, he wants to try… big kiss….
Commentary: You want me to comment on any of this? I’m pretty “meh” about Buffy and Spike together, but it does seem like a choice is being made here by Christos to have both Buffy and Spike approach this relationship like adults, so that is nice.
If we’re “on again”, it feels like Gage is implying that it’s going to stick this time out without the constant crisis … maybe…. *Shrug* Okay.
But I’m just not ready to trust that there isn’t going to be more wangst coming.
Page 17: When Buffy and Spike arrive back at her apartment, they find Willow and Giles commiserating with one another over pints of ice cream. Buffy is surprised to see them after their latest blow out.
Page 18: Buffy tells them that she’s glad they’re there, which Willow snarks was unexpected. But Buffy tells her that whatever strain their latest drama caused needs to be put on the back burner for the moment because she’s working on a plan.
A plan in which the military and faeries will need to play their part. And without fighting. Which she is fully onboard with calling crazy.
Page 19: Five minutes later and Buffy has laid out her plans to tackle D’Hoffryn. Giles admits that he may be able to swing the Fae’s support since they’re not being asked to risk anything by cooperating. Wills is less sure about the military’s response since she’s been frozen out, but she also agrees it’s worth passing along.
Buffy smiles that is all she needs, as she’ll handle the fighting. But Willow disputes this and tells her that they’ll all handle the fighting, the way it should be.
Page 20: This is Andrew’s cue to show that he’d also come in while they were talking and overheard enough to know a battle is getting ready to be waged. Not only is he in, too, but he’s brought experimental and possibly dangerous weaponry.
Buffy grins that she’s glad to have him aboard, because his passive-aggressive Facebook posts had her thinking she’d managed to piss him off at her somehow. Andy says he was maybe overreacting to some junk but it isn’t important. He’s just glad to be the fifth in their warband.
Page 21: Which is another one of those cosmic cues, this time for Dawn and Xander to tell the others that they have seven, as our two adventurers have found their way back to Earth… and conveniently… or creepily… right into Buffy, Willow and Dawn’s apartment.
Dawn asks who they’re fighting, but Buffy insists that Dawn and Xan not be a part of this after everything they must’ve just been through… what with Xander pulling the barbarian look.
Xander waves this all aside and tells Buffy that he and Dawn are back, they’re bad, and they’re in. Buffy then admits to everyone that this is a real Hail, Mary play and that this is one mess-up that they won’t be able to fix.
Page 22: Dawn tells her if that’s true, then it’s THEIR mess and they’ll own it.
Xan points out that they can’t do anything right without the team chemistry that has always gotten them through in the past.
Dawn asks again who they’re fighting. Buffy smiles and tells everybody to listen close….
The Good: So... Comic-Book Xander Harris is looking quite damned hot. Especially at the end of the issue with the scruffy face and the shirtless, chiseled body and... uhm, yeah... I'm definitely wishing he'd wear less baggy shirts going forward.
The Bad: Nothing is really bad [if you'll put to the side the convention that everyone ends up at Buffy's apartment just at the right moment to make a pithy entrance].
Other Thoughts: The Scooby dynamic is on focus again throughout this issue, as our team are seperated and then have to deal with their personal relationship issues, before coming back to face the central threat for the season... and it's all... just... kinda there. I literally have no strong feelings about anything happening between our various characters.
Although the point of Dawn and Xander was brief interludes, I'm disappointed that this is the tack took, when they really could've changed Dawn and Xander's characters and had them come out lastingly different because of their experiences.
The Score: I just... I have no strong feelings for anything that happened here. There weren't any 'power moments' for anyone, and everybody ending up coming together right when they need to... even characters traveling in other dimensions is just too twee.
It's not an entirely empty issue, but it surely is weirdly constructed and slowly-paced.
3.0 out of 5 stars