Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 30
“Own It: It’s On You”
Writer: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Having stolen the Vampyr book to take control of the new rules of , the vengeance demon D’Hoffryn has plans to make himself invulnerable and take over the world - of course. This Big Bad is also leading a corps of vengeance demons that includes some familiar faces… Meanwhile, the Scoobies have reunited, and in miracle fashion Dawn and Xander were able to find their way home. Now, Buffy’s plan - with all the sideline assistance that she has been enlisting - is for one final fight: the Slayer and her friends vs. D’Hoffryn…
Page 01: We open in the moment after Faux-Anya has apparently turned Xander Harris into a pile of ashes. Everyone is still reeling in horrible shock and pain.
Buffy shouts up at ‘Anya’ over what she’s done.
D’Hoffryn points out to the Slayer that she’s isn’t really Anya. For she has surpassed her.
Commentary: And before we start diving into the issue proper, I just want to point out that “Xander is dead” just didn’t hit me the way that I wanted last issue. And so here, it still isn’t ‘real’ to me. There has just been too many reversed deaths going on for me to buy Xan as killed, but if it were to be really happening, Faux-Anya would’ve been a good villain to choose for the deed.
I also do like the art showing our various principals’ reactions.
Page 02: Willow turns her magicks against Vengeance contingent, commanding D’Hoffryn to burn, while sending an energy bolt against him.
This does nothing, and Anya mocks her for being stupid. She reminds the gang that they made D’Hoffryn invulnerable to magic, and anything else they’d care to try, when they gave each of the Council seats a specific anti-power. She calls out Buffy for being weak and avoiding responsibility for the New Magic Rules in the first place.
Spike tries to shout down Faux-Anya, but Buffy tells him that she’s right.
Page 03: Buffy, still crying heavily, tells D’Hoffryn that she said at the very beginning there was nobody that she trusted the fate of the world to more, than her and her friends. But she didn’t feel like she was ready for the decisions that were coming.
She cries out that she shouldn’t have trusted D’Hoffryn ever, rather than trusting in her own judgment [DUH]. She berates herself for letting fear and doubt eat at her and control her.
Passing through her shocked grief over Xander, and into rage, Buffy shouts that she wishes they’d never given D’Hoffryn access to those new powers, because then she’d really show him what vengeance means.
Commentary: And, also from the end of last issue, I sort of thought maybe Faux-Anya was going to turn on D’Hoffryn to help the gang overcome him. Right here, I could see that Buffy -- a woman enraged & making a wish -- would call out to Anyanka’s entire raison d’etre.
I’m iffy on this deus ex machina. I mean, it’s a bit pat, but on the other hand, it does make sense that the “New, Improved, Anyanka” would have to fulfill her mandate, no matter who does the wishing, or what they are wishing.
It does feel like D’Hoffryn in making an Anya copy would make her more of her previous self, rather than the girl that chose to give up her demon powers.
Page 04: Before D’Hoffryn can quite grasp what is happening, Anyanka grants Buffy’s wish!
D’Hoffryn finds himself instantly stripped of the new Council powers he “inherited”, reducing him from his towering Master of the Universe self, back to his not-insignificant Vengeance Demon Lordship self.
Commentary: One may even wonder if Faux-Anya pushed Buffy deliberately into a wish similar to this. She did kind of throw the fact that Buffy made this happen by writing new powers into the Vampyr Book pretty strongly. Maybe she had hoped Buffy would wish that she’d never written the new powers there to grant them… but her phrasing also worked to do the same thing?
Considering that the Gang really set up D’Hoffryn to be a god, I’m buying this quick turn of events simply because it’s hard to see otherwise how they’d be able to overcome him without an even greater and obvious Divine Intervention [which only occurs in the Supernatural-verse, seemingly].
And I think there is a bit of cosmic justice in Faux-Anya knocking down D’Hoffryn after the things he did to Anya, including forcing her to watch Halfrek be destroyed only to cause her anguish.
Page 05: With D’Hoffryn reeling from having his new powers vanish in the time it took to say two words, falls to the floor of the apartment [having been levitating over the gang to show his superiority this entire time].
Buffy reacts quicker to this new turn of events, and lashes out with the Scythe. It’s much more effective this time, slashing him across the chest, and shocking him into dropping the Vampyr Book.
He responds with a zap to blast Buffy across the room, and into Spike’s waiting arms, while still trying to grasp what just happened to him.
Giles very helpfully points out that Buffy made a vengeance wish and a vengeance demon granted it.
Commentary: I think there has been a general misunderstanding about the VENGEANCE demons in general. I think, in fandom, there is the general “why don’t they just wish blah-blah happens… the demons have to grant it” forgetting that they’re whole shtick is to help humans get revenge… and if they can do that while also perverting the actual point of the wish, so much the better.
They’re not genies, they’re vengeance demons and any wish they grant has to be coming from a desire to have revenge against whoever the wish is aimed at in order to be granted.
Simply wishing something to have been undone wouldn’t have worked. It had to be coming from a genuine desire for vengeance on behalf of the wish-maker. A qualifier that Buffy now has in this situation.
[We will see later that D’Hoffryn is probably not under this restriction in his role as the Vengeance Demon Lord. Which also makes perfect sense. He’d have to have the ability to step in and alter wishes granted by his subservient demons if necessary, and that would include the ability to decide which wishes he’d be willing to grant himself.]
Page 06: Faux-Anya now tells Rupert that it didn’t hurt that Buffy’s wish helps her get her own revenge, as well. She tells D’Hoffryn that she was just able to prove that she can be her own person, not a copy of somebody else and a slave to the Vengeance Lord.
She asks if she hasn’t proven that she can make her own decisions, and to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, she brings back Xander Harris alive and well.
Jon exclaims that Faux-Anya killed him, but she corrects him. She said that she had made Xander a ghost… and so she did. She’d made him invisible, silent and intangible… forced to feel the way she felt when he was the only one in the real world who could see and hear her, but turned his back on her to leave her in that horrible position.
She announces that her vengeance against Xander is also complete.
Commentary: Okay… yes, it does confirm that Xan isn’t going to stay dead, which is what I was figuring/fearing at the end of last issue. BUT, I actually do like this. I like that Faux-Anya only appeared to have killed him but really Xander was just shunted into another plane, not actually killed.
She was able to get her revenge on Xander for hurting HER, rather than anything he may or may not have done to/for real Anya. This was about her own anger, rather than the shadow of somebody else’s, and I like that.
Page 07: D’Hoffryn calls her faithless, but is cut off before he can complete whatever ugly thought he was going to voice by Andrew shouting to the room to get him.
But as noted, D’Hoffryn isn’t exactly fully weak just because he’s been knocked back down from god levels. He sends energy waves through the apartment, knocking everybody back.
Page 08: Faux-Anya isn’t done with her face-turn though. She lashes out at D’Hoffryn with the same blue flames she used to pretend to incinerate Xander, reminding him that the rest of them are pretty powerful, too.
But D’Hoffryn finds her attempts to use powers he granted her against him to be laughable. He enacts his own bit of vengeance against her, flash frying her to Jon and the other Vengeance Contingent’s shock.
Commentary: Oh, DUH Faux-Jon! He’s a DEMON, you dick.
Page 09: Buffy shouts at the gang to hit him hard and fast, while Xander catches the falling, grievously burnt Faux-Anya, lowering her gently to the floor.
As Buffy is trying to slice through D’Hoffryn’s magical shields and Willow is blasting with her own magic at him, Xan begs Giles to do something to help her.
Rupert wishes that he could help her, but that isn’t vengeancy so nobody steps forward to grant that one. Anya tells Xander that it’s okay. She reminds Xan that she only existed because D’Hoffryn wanted her to, and there was no other way this was going to end.
She tells Xan that D’Hoffryn could make her and he could end her at any time, but in between she did something only she could do… she made herself ‘real’.
She forgives Xander for anything he did or didn’t do for her, and she whispers with her last breath, that she thinks the real Anya would forgive him too.
Page 10: As Xan weeps over dead Faux-Anya, D’Hoffryn calls for support from the surviving Vengeance Contingent. But Jonathon, speaking for the others - all of whom are deeply upset now - calls out D’Hoffryn for being a really bad boss.
He announces they quit. And teleport out, leaving him to his fate.
Commentary: This is … interesting? Maybe?
I can’t tell what this will do to the Vengeance Powers of them, or whether - assuming D’Hoffryn survives this - he could strip Faux-Jon of the stabilizing magic holding his zombie body intact. It’s possible that Faux-Jon really screwed himself, and I find it ironic it would be over somebody he barely knew, rather than over anything that happened/happens to his actual friend, Andrew.
Faux-Jon’s entire ‘arc’ in this season has been a weird journey, and I’m still not exactly sure why he was brought back as an AI in the first place, from a writer’s perspective. In fact, I found real Jonathon’s arc a bit weird too when he started fighting Buffy in the first place. But bringing him back from the dead… even as a simulation… felt ‘unfocused’.
I kinda wish he’d been killed off here, as well.
Page 11: D’Hoffryn calls his exiting demons ingrates for not helping him, but believes his own powers are more than enough anyway. Until Buffy’s Scythe slices through the magical shield he’d been barricading himself with, and slices off his hand!
He chooses a quick teleport back to Arashmaharr over staying, but promises Buffy this isn’t over.
Page 12: Soon after, D’Hoffryn is in the medical center of Arashmaharr steaming at Buffy for her injury of him. He is ordering around the doctor over what he needs to heal, but the demon doctor is gaping at something behind him.
Which turns out to be Buffy and company. In keeping with her new found confidence to oversee the rules of magic and the gang’s best judgment in how to use them, they wrote in the book that Dawn’s Key powers will function just fine on Earth.
And she can now see and access the portal gates from their home plane… including unlocking the one leading to Arashmaharr.
“Surprise. We grew up,” she smirks at the Vengeance Demon Lord.
Commentary: Okay, so Dawn. I like the idea of Dawnie’s Key powers still being a thing. But, I wasn’t crazy about the whole “I’m a goddess” with them thing they were pulling during her and Xander’s exile. They were way too much, and had zero to do with opening portals, which is what they should focus on.
It could be interesting in Season 11 [which is apparently already assured] if she makes a huge mistake and everyone agrees that they have to write in some restrictions on her. It could also be interesting if Willow takes Dawn even more under her own wing as a mentor.
Page 13: D’Hoffryn is suddenly all smiles, complimenting Buffy on her ‘play’.
He offers that since she’s impressed him so, perhaps they can reach an agreement rather than continuing to fight this way. He offers that as a Wish Master, he can grant each of them one wish as a treaty to call this war of theirs over. One by one he goes through and promises things they want, like Joyce and Tara being brought back to life or Spike be given a Shanshu to human or making Giles an adult again.
The only one he can’t seem to come up with anything for immediately is Andrew, whose name he can’t remember….
Commentary: I did find the callback to everybody forgetting Andrew’s name to be pretty funny, and I’ll admit that I did chuckle, especially Andrew shouting his own name and the fact that he’d been there at the apartment the whole time.
And I also liked how Dawn and Buffy glance at one another - considering whether they’d take the deal.
Page 14: After a moment of everybody staring at each other, and seeming to reach a consensus without words, Willow & Giles zaps D’Hoffryn with a holding field. While Andy has his power dampening pistol. Buffy gives the demon a long overdue beheading.
Commentary: I loved this!
Not that I expected them to take the deal, but I thought that Buffy would just step forward and make the decision. What I loved about this page, was the first panel, where EVERYONE is clearly on the same page just with a glance at one another that they’re not going to fall for any promises from a demon, especially one that has already betrayed their misplaced trust, again.
Page 15: We skip forward to two weeks after the confrontation in Arashmaharr.
Faux-Anya’s been cremated and her ashes kept by Xander in an urn, on which is engraved, “She Owned Her Life”.
It’s game night at Xan and Spike’s, but Buffy isn’t focused. She tells everyone that she’s been worried again about the Book, and its powers to reshape everything.
Dawn brings up that their problem is waffling about it. If they’re going to take ownership of the rules of magic, they’ll just have to accept that it has a risk of hurting people. Xander then points out that not taking responsibility over it wasn’t exactly hurt-free, either.
Wills agrees with Xan’s implication that they may as well do so over trusting anyone else’s judgment, even though she’s also not sure that she completely trusts them to make the right choices with something this big.
Page 16: Buffy tells the others that though it was a mistake to turn the rules of magic over to the Magic Council, she liked having the input of others about these big decisions.
Willow suggests forming a new Council, and this time not just ones who aren’t even humans. She tells the others that she thinks she’s finally ready to step up to the plate. And she thinks Buffy should be another member of a New Executive Council.
Page 17: Buffy shrugs, and says ‘why the hell not’.
She also says though, that she doesn’t want to micromanage everything, because she has other things she wants to focus on, giving Spike a grin. Wills suggests she feels the same way about her own personal life.
Spike suggests what they need is a Vice President… someone of sound judgment who could handle the day to day affairs. Somebody who really embraces the minutiae of magic… someone whose sad and solitary existence could only be improved…
Rupert finally shouts that he’ll accept, already. But does call Spike out for “gross mischaracterizations” and then turns attention to potential members of this new Council.
Commentary: Which… I dunno gang. I mean, the Book isn’t going to go away. The rules of magic are going to get written one way or another, and just leaving it to itself based on whichever conceptions are the most dominant in the world at any potential moment does seems rather chaotic, and probably destructive what with all of the good stories being about horror and ‘be careful what you wish for’ tales.
On the other hand though, this is starting to sound a bit like “The New Council, same as the Old Council”. I don’t see what other choices there can be though.
Page 18: A week later, and our gang are convening the first meeting of this New Executive Council at a hotel meeting room.
Dracula has been invited as a member to represent the needs and concerns of the vampire community, since Xander trusts that he can protect both the Old Guard, like Harmony and the New Vampires like Vicki without the conflicts of interest.
Drac is finally breaking himself of the habit of referring to Xander as ‘manservant’. Also in the weeks since the return of Dawn and Xan from exile, they’ve rebuilt their relationship to Dracula’s support [despite the fact that I’m pretty sure that Vlad has a thing for Xander that isn’t entirely platonic].
Page 19: Archduchess Venobia has also been secured a seat with Buffy and Willow on the executive committee. And Dracula sees her being waylaid in the lobby by a ghoul trying to lobby her for ghoul rights in the new rules.
Before he can completely wipe the amused smirk from his face, though, he finds that he’ll not be immune from lobbyists, either.
Lilah Morgan is there, too! Apparently W & H were able to follow Dawn and Xander back to a portal to Earth as well. And they’re busy on rebuilding their brand as both lobbyist and legal advisors to him, what with humans predominating on this new Council which seems unfair to the “traditional base of the community”.
But Vlad detests lawyers, except where they’re prisoners in his castle dungeon with the knowledge of their inevitable doom slowly dawning on them. She’s dismissed, but he does offer a compliment to her choice in scarves.
With this, Lilah turns her attention to Venobia instead….
Commentary: Hmmm… interesting that Wolf, Ram & Hart are back again.
I wonder how this will impact Angel?
Page 20: In a room at the hotel, Buffy is having last minute jitters about starting this meeting. She’s worried that they’ll be laughed at, so Wills offers to turn them all into toads.
Then she’s worried that the not-human members will gang up and vote against everything that they propose so nothing gets done, but Willow offers that is sort of one of the risks that’s going to come with playing politics.
Spike also helps Buffy feel better about this plan, and the two end up sharing some very real grins and a kiss, being back on track with one another.
Commentary: I feel almost obligated now to comment on the Spuffy, even though my answer hasn’t changed. So once again, and maybe for the last time: It’s fine. I don’t have anything against Spuffy, except the on again-off again thing that we’ve been putting up with for years.
If this is a cue to us that Gage is committed to Buffy and Spike being a permanent couple… cool beans. My only issue is Spike as a character has been pretty weak this season, so he really needs to have more to do than be Buffy’s boyfriend. Hopefully, there will be some storylines sprinkled throughout season 11 that’ll give him the chance to get away from her for short periods of time and do his own thing. It may help Christos stay in touch with the character’s roots.
Page 21: In the conference room, things are already getting ugly. Venobia complains that the Slayer has stacked the membership with her allies. Lucky Cat points out that while he’s not happy with this either, they do still outnumber the humans.
Also on the council, is a Skeleton Guy, who objects to Riley Finn being there since he has no powers to share, and ergo has nothing to do with magic. But Riley shouts back that it is past time that regular people had a voice in things, since everything the magical community does has a direct impact on their lives, too.
Skeleton Guy tells Riley that just his use of the term, “normal” shows him to be too bigoted to deserve his seat.
Giles bangs his gavel, until it nearly breaks, trying to call for order as Riley shouts back that he’s not the one there to advocate for the skinning of his constituents.
Page 22: Buffy helps Giles call the room to order by slamming her Scythe blade into the table [You know you’re going to be paying for that, right Buffy… I have a feeling you’ve got to be reaching the end of that Deepscan paycheck by now].
She tells everyone gathered that this won’t be easy for any of them to reach enough agreement to get things done. She admits that none of them, herself included, are used to doing things this way, rather than the whole slaying thing instead.
But she also offers that life is about not knowing how things are going to work until you try them.
The Good: I really liked the way that Faux-Anya was handled here, including not actually killing Xander because that wasn't her version of revenge on him and that her ultimate goal was revenge on D'Hoffryn for creating her to be little more than a servant to his whims.
I also liked the issue ending with Buffy and the gang accepting this awesome responsibility that has been put on them, and without the usual amount of Angsty-Angst-of-Angst, with a side helping of Angst over it. In fact, ending the issue on Buffy's broad smile was perfect.
I loved Buffy and the team arriving in Arashmaharr, brought by Dawn, to D'Hoffryn's complete surprise.
It was also great how everybody agreed without saying a word that accepting wishes from a vengeance demon lord was wholly unwise and an unacceptable risk, especially as it would also mean they had to let him live after what he'd pulled on them.
I laughed at the ongoing joke that Andrew keeps having his name forgotten.
The Bad: I really don't like Jonathon being brought back, stuffed into a zombie body, made a junior vengeance demon, only to not actually do anything. Why is this character back [even in a faux version]? What is his purpose from a writing perspective?
Other Thoughts: I don't think that I really like any of the vengeance demons just being able to quit [aside from Jon, who I could accept it from more] because D'Hoffryn is a bad boss. Surely, this isn't the first time he's lashed out and been a jerk. I'm just not buying that the other vengeance demons didn't already know who they worked for, or indeed, that they wouldn't understand his desire for vengeance against faux-Anya for turning on him.
I do find the pacing a problem on this one... but unlike my usual complaints when this is an issue, in this one it felt like things were racing by too quickly. I had to re-read it again just to catch up with everything because it was all flying by so fast.
I'm also a bit ambiguous about Dawn's Key powers being an ongoing thing, but only because during her travels, her powers were doing things that were so far from her being "A Key". I don't want her to replace Willow as the constantly overpowered one in the group who waves her hands around and does anything the script requires at any particular moment.
I'm a bit worried about the whole Magic Council, Verson 2. But I do like that Riley is a member to represent humanity without powers, but who are always affected by what the superpowered folk do.
I'm also up in the air for now with the knowledge that W & H are back for reals.
The Score: The first time through, I was less happy with the rapid pace of everything to wrap up the season. On the second read, and the analysis, I found myself liking it much more. There's a few nitpicks, still with the pacing being really rapid but I like the handling of our characters and the ultimate way that Faux-Anya was put to use.
3.75 out of 5 stars