Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 11 Issue 02
"In Time of Crisis"
Writer: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Color: Dan Jackson, Lettering: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft's] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been saving the world from demons and the forces of darkness on a regular basis since she was a teenager. Alongside her vampire boyfriend Spike; her best friends, Wiccan Willow Rosenberg and normal guy Xander Harris; her sister Dawn; and her formerly old but now magically reborn as a thirteen-year-old mentor Giles, Buffy has found nothing they can't face together... But the world hasn't stopped throwing new challenges their way.
An ancient god of storms, the Shenlong dragon, attacked San Francisco with a massive tsunami. Buffy and friends drove it away, but much of the city was leveled, and thousands died.
Page 01: We open a week after the attack on San Francisco. We're in Xan and Spike's apartment with Buffy and Dawn as the sun is setting out over the Pacific.
The local residents have been living in FEMA trailers while buildings are inspected and infrastructure repaired.
Now, our gang are being allowed back in for a short time to gather personal belongings, feed pets, etc. but there is a curfew still in effect.
Page 02: After feeding Xan and Spike's cats, they head on over to Giles' apartment, where he and Willow have been working to identify who may have had a hand in waking and directing the dragon last issue. They've come up with nada, except for Wills sharing with Buffy that Lake and the military have come to the same conclusion.
Everyone fears this is the start of a war, and nobody knows who has declared it.
On the news, President Malloy begins a news conference on the US' response.
Page 03: The President confirms that San Francisco has proven to everyone that people weren't prepared for living in a world where the supernatural had stepped out of the shadows. With this attack on a city, we cannot go on as we have and so the President is declaring the start of a new census, to count and catalog all supernatural residents of the United States, modeled on the Federal Census that is mandatory every 10 years.
He also introduces the woman who will head up this census: new Cabinet Secretary of the Supernatural, Ophelia Reyes.
Secretary Reyes takes questions, basically confirming that like the regular census, it's mandatory for all magical residents within the US' borders and territories to cooperate with being counted and sorted. She tells the reporters that this about normalizing and legalizing the status of supernatural residents.
Spike, Giles and Buffy all appears less than comfortable.
Commentary: I like this turn of events, and I think it is something that really should've been tackled in S9. With vampires out in public, thanks to Harmony, it makes sense that the government would respond by wanting to count them, get their names, etc. as a practical matter. Not that I'm not nervous about what they'll do with that information, but it's odd that this is just now finally coming up. And that gives me hope that this short season is going to deal seriously with the world as it had to have changed since Season 8, which really hasn't had much attention paid to it [as I'm sure I've complained about here and there through the last few seasons].
Page 04: Spike is especially upset about this turn of events and the talk of making lists, accusing it of being a tactic of fascism. But Giles offers it may turn out to be a positive, as a comprehensive census could help everyone. And Wills offers to William that technically, he doesn't even have basic human rights, since he's dead, and this could change that status for him.
But Spike counters by offering that "people" like Vicki will also get the same, possibly, and she's a soulless monster. It's also going to put Buffy and her entire job in an even more grey area than it might've already been after the stink that Harmony raised in the public consciousness about the Slayers.
Page 05: Back at the Candlestick R.V. Park, where everyone is being sheltered while San Fran is put back together, Buffy hands Spike is allotted packet of blood that is being included in the emergency supplies. They hear a scuffle going on nearby.
This turns out to be a group of drunken people having cornered a demon. They're throwing around the usual "go back home, you're not wanted here" shouting and threatening of violence.
Page 06: Demon gets himself brained with a piece of rebar, and knocked to the ground. Rebar wielder is egged on by the others to bash the demon some more, but before he can, Buffy snatches the bar from his hand. She bends this in half and tells him to break it up.
She warns that this isn't a fight he really wants, but he says maybe he really does. Spike and Buffy face down a group of angry, scared drunks who don't want to back down from expressing their frustrations on them, despite Buffy's show of strength.
Demon takes the moment to dash away, while he can.
Commentary: So, the only thing about this page is what I expressed already at the end of last issue. This feels like we're going to get heavily into politics this arc, with the supernatural denizens standing in for our current arguments over immigrants, especially the undocumented.
It's a thorny issue with a lot of animus between differing viewpoints, and I don't want these reviews to be an attractant to folks to argue endlessly and rage at each other about it. On the other hand, MARVEL also used super powered beings [in their case, mutants] to address issues of differences and how some people are driven to ugliness out of uncontrolled fear, so maybe we'll be okay through the arc.
I'll just say, I'm a bit nervous about too much pointed & personal political commentary making it into my Buffy.
Page 07: She tells Spike to target the ringleaders, put them down hard, but don't kill anybody.
Somehow, our eight "normals" think they can beat a Slayer and a vampire in hand to hand.
Page 08: With Buffy and Spike clearly holding back, Spike gets pinned to the ground. He warns the Slayer he's running out of non-lethal options. She tells him to give her a minute, as she's in a tug of war over her Scythe.
But their fight is ultimately broken up by a blonde Amazon who comes from off screen. She orders everyone to disperse, or they'll be detained under her authority as an contracted law enforcement agent for the government.
Chuck, our rebar wielder, complains that next the government will be shoving them all into FEMA Camps (You remember those from the hysteria surrounding a black candidate ahead in the 2008 elections, right? Who could forget the utter stupidity spewing from the Conservatives, then? And... here we go... right into the political shitheap that I just said I wanted to avoid...). But the crowd does break up to return to their trailers.
Commentary: Yeah, okay, this is going to be a real challenge to keep my mouth shut about my personal politics, obvs. I could go back and delete any of the comments that would stir up shit, I suppose. But I'm 50 years old now, so screw it. You can always argue back in the comments, or just stop reading.
Page 09: Our blonde Amazon turns out to be a Slayer named Jordan. The U.S. Government has been hiring Slayers to work with them as part of Homeland Security in order to keep the peace while this transitioning and bringing the supernatural out into mainstream society is taking place.
She actually says that she was there specifically to look for Buffy. Jordan tells her that she'd like to have Buffy working on their side and help keep the peace.
Page 10: Buffy, as we'll remember, has always had a certain amount of... let's call it uneasiness... with any of the Scooby Gang being under the orders of the government, and she hasn't changed her mind. She frowns at Jordan and tells her she's taking a hard pass.
Jordan tells her it's no big, as since she shared her power, there are plenty of girls who would like to both get well paid and put their powers to use doing something important. But since she has to throw out things like "heard you'd gotten soft" and that she'd become too cozy with the enemy, she seems less copacetic with Buffy's choice than she wanted to sound.
Commentary: I find it amusing that every Slayer in Jordan's group is taller than Buffy. I was surprised though that Jordan didn't bring up the fact that Buffy should relinquish the Scythe if she's not gonna do the job, considering her general attitude. And I'd really like for somebody to bring up that technically the Scythe doesn't belong exclusively to Buffy just for the sake of acknowledging it. If anything, it belongs to Faith as the last "holder of the line", though that's mute now [especially if Fray's timeline wasn't excised and will still happen the way we saw in her own title].
Page 11: Days later, everyone has been cleared to return to their homes. The whole gang are gathered at Xan & Spike's, again, where Wills and Giles have been going through spellbooks. Their attempts to find a tracking spell to backtrace who summoned/directed the storm dragon in the first place has been a bust.
Wills explains that whoever did it was very good in masking their signature, and Giles points out that the dragon's own overabundance of energy is also helping overwhelm any subtle traces of the caster/summoner.
Xan, Buffy and Spike worry over how the initial fear after the attack hasn't disipated over the last several days, and Spike tells them that when folks are scared, they lash out at whoever is most not like themselves.
Andrew walks in on this statement, having dropped by to wish everyone well and suggest they join him in relocating to Europe. Buffy can't believe he's actually going to just up and leave his home.
Page 12: Spike wonders what Andy is worried about, being an ordinary person, but Andrew points out that when the angry mob run out of the magically adept, they'll start turning on anyone magic-adjacent. And with his history of demon summoning, he doesn't feel safe. He tells them that everyone he knows in the magic community who has the means are getting out while they can.
The gang are determined to stay put and fight this wave of supernatural-phobia. Andrew tells them he'll start to build a railroad, in case they need to flee in secret. He admits that paranoid as that might sound, he's afraid things will get worse before they sanity returns.
Commentary: I'm kind of bummed out that Andrew is taking an exit from the book, just because it felt like he'd finally found a family in the Gang and had come out the other side of his impulsive, bad decision making. But, I'll also freely admit that he was always poorly used anyway, often as comic relief, which caused him to make those bad decisions over and over again.
I'm just sorry that everyone on the book seemed to forget that Andrew was running an International Aid Organization. This disaster would've been the exact place to highlight what good Andy was doing in the world, in between bumbling about.
I'm also sorry that he's returning to Italy, instead of over to Angel where maybe he'd have some more growth. With Faith having exited that book [for reasons which I can't even grasp] and with Angel in Ireland with nobody but Fred, he could use some recurring characters [*sigh* poor Brandt -- who never did get a first name].
Page 13: After Andrew leaves, Giles worries over the latest news out of Washington, D.C. This involves making using any supernatural powers without authorization within the USA or its territories illegal. Rupert doesn't like the lack of specifity in regards to how those powers are being used. Buffy says that they'll have to tone it down, since it's gotta be violating loads of constitutional rights the way it's worded, but Wills worries that won't be seen as a problem since technically the supernatural only "stared existing" a few years ago.
Willow is interrupted by a text on her cell... and whatever it is causes her to take to flight and rush out of the window.
Commentary: Yeah, I'm with Willow on this one -- at least to begin with. Congress passes bills all of the time that have to be challenged on constitutional grounds, and that rarely happens immediately. This sort of kneejerk response is exactly why we have a constitution and courts to enforce it... so that our congressional critters don't violate everyone's rights and freedoms in the name of security, or by promising it'll be used sparingly [y'know... YOU don't to worry, because we're only targeting THOSE PEOPLE]. And all of the assault statutes on the books should already cover monsters with powers hurting people.
And this feels much too disturbingly like the "Mutant Registration Act".
This is all just going to spiral downward, isn't it? I wonder if I can still catch Andrew for a ride. Italy seems nice.
Page 14: We skip a few blocks away to the apartment of one of Willow's recent Wiccan students, Calliope and her girlfriend, Linda.
They're currently having things thrown through their windows. Though on the phone with 9-1-1, the operator seems preoccupied with whether they've been involved in supernatural activity or casting spells, implying the police are stretched thin and they may not be prioritized.
Which is really bad news when a flaming cocktail is tossed through the window next, catching the room on fire!
Page 15: With the apartment ablaze, Linda tells everyone they need to get out of there, but Cal is afraid they'll be waiting to kill them.
Outside, our firebug tells is much more tentative friend that if they chose to burn to death, then that's their choice.
With the apartment fire out of control, Cal offers to go first to protect Linda. But Willow dashes in at that moment through their broken window.
Commentary: Uh, I'd like to know how "Billy" even knew that anyone in the building was a Wiccan, let alone that specific apartment. That is some creepy stalking, and it's nice that "Billy" and friends never bothered to consider everybody else in the building. I'm having trouble believing that even anti-mutant-er-supernatural hysteria would cover that.
Page 16: Wills is naturally able to douse the flames (well, supernaturally of course, which is naturally for her). She next pays a visit to the firebomber and friends waiting outside for the "witches". She unleashes some magical blasts to take them off of her feet [but nicely, again, she isn't black-eyed under circumstances that she could've been].
Page 17: Alas for Willow, the important part, that in which she is raging power bolts around is posted to the internet. And of course, the circumstances like an apartment being firebombed isn't included in the footage making the public rounds.
She admits to Lake, where she's been summoned, that it doesn't look so great when viewed like it is. But she points out that the mob she suppressed were trying to murder her friends due to their religion - which is the hate crime they should be focusing on.
Lake points out that the hate crime part didn't make it into the viral video, which is just going to feed into the public fear and anger that they're trying to calm.
Commentary: This changing from Willow power zapping the creeps to her sitting in front of an iPad with an "Okay. So it's not a great look", struck my funny bone. Her facial expression is great for this panel.
And I like that OF COURSE, filming bitca couldn't be bothered to post the entire video. It's annoying but it's also very realistic that the poster would only upload the part that is most dramatic, divorced entirely of context. It would've been nice if Lake would mention the arrests of our arsonist, at least though, and the collection of the uncut video for evidence instead of making it appear that Lake's about to blame this whole thing on Willow for not being more circumspect in her magic use.
Page 18: Lake tells Wills that fortunately her face was never clearly scene with the amateur video, and because Buffy has a good relationship with the SFPD there won't be charges.
[Um. Fuck. You. Lake.]
Wills rages [quite righteously] that it was self-defense! She next blames Lake as part of the problem of "othering" magic users with this census bs. Lake tosses at her if she can deny that a sorcerer sent that dragon to San Francisco, and Wills has to admit that she's probably correct on that score.
Lake then tells her that the people in the government aren't stupid. She assures Willow that they're not trying to paint all spell casters with the same brush and in fact, people above her recognize her importance.
At this Willow is introduced to Secretary Ophelia Reyes.
Page 19: Willow offers that she's glad that the President recognized the need for a Cabinet level position to handle the issues currently, and tosses out that it'd be nice if there were some actual supernatural beings involvement, however. This is Reyes' chance to offer a position to Willow herself to help guide them through these difficulties.
Wills isn't comfortable with this, but Lake reminds her that the best way to affect policy is to get involved.
But a sticking point is Wills' level of autonomy if she were to join Reyes' staff. The Secretary tells Willow she'd have to become a sworn Federal agent, due to security clearances and such.
Commentary: Which, I think we're supposed to read this as some sort of trap to make Willow part of the system and co-opt her in some way, the way the Slayer had been sent specifically to locate Buffy with the same offer. But to tell the truth, I agree with Secretary Reyes, here. Willow, Buffy, Spike or any of them should have the oversight that comes with a badge if they're going to go this route. On the other hand, the government loves their contractors, so I'm failing to see why, except to keep a thumb on Willow's doings, that Reyes would be so insistant about deputizing her as a Fed.
But then, I could just be reading things into it because I wasn't comfortable with Willow joining Lake's organization when she last did so. I just have a thing about authority, especially heavy handed authority. But Willow thinking she somehow is entitled to complete autonomy [which is what she's coming across like to me] is equally bothersome.
Page 20: Willow scowls and accuses the government of wanting all of the supernatural beings now to be on a leash or in a cage.
[Which is uh... really overboard, Wills. Why not take it down a notch or three?]
Willow turns down the offer flat, and asks if this means they'll try to arrest her now. Something which Reyes rolls her eyes over, and Lake offers that she did warn her about Wills' fuse.
Ophelia offers her card should Willow change her mind. She offers that as long as Willow abides by any applicable laws, they'll not have a problem whether she should join her department or not.
Commentary: Which, I couldn't help but take as a small threat what with the clearly unconstitutional law that we just heard about earlier in the issue. I don't like how Ophelia and Lake do seem to be ready to include people with magic as among the supernaturals, which could conveniently allow them to ignore their basic human rights. Something that all of the demons, including Spike, are going to be facing, I have no doubt.
Page 21: That evening, Buffy offers to Willow that maybe she should've taken the position but Willow is adamant she couldn't.
Giles worries over the level of escalating violence, dividing the country when they should be focusing on uniting.
Dawn turns up the sound on the television, as she spots Secretary Reyes at another news conference.
Ophelia tells the White House reporters that they've had three police officers killed during a confrontation in a public park with two vampires for being there at all, in Ohio. There was also a tour operator lynched to death in New Orleans because he was a tour operator dressed as a voodoo priest and was falsely accused as being involved in the dragon attack.
Reyes scowls that this level of fear and violence is completely unacceptable and cannot stand.
Page 22: The answer to this level of paranoia is, but of course, to immediately but temporarily, move all supernatural citizens to so-called "safe zones" to help deal with the public [human] panic until policies and the law can be caught up on how the world has changed.
Commentary: Because warning people that attacks on anyone within the US, no matter their status or the species, is still a violent crime and perpetrators will be dealt with accordingly to the full extent of the law would be too fair-minded.
Seriously, guys, get on a flight out!
The Good: I'm quite happy that we're finally dealing more with the implications of the supernatural becoming public and the impacts that would have on society in general. I especially like being introduced to a new Cabinet position, which would be entirely sensible.
I also like the tidbit of the discussion by the Scooby Gang on "normalizing" the supernatural and the affect that could have on dealing with certain matters, like vampire slaying.
The Bad: Nothing here.
Other Thoughts: The heavy, heavy political angle is going to continue being thorny, and I'm not really excited about too much current real world politics being in my Buffy fantasy.
I do think that I'm liking Ophelia Reyes' level head, but I can't help but think she's going to be an oppositional figure in the arc. I hope that we don't go overboard with it, because I want her to be the type of character where you can see her point, and that last page tipped things too far into "villain against Buffy" territory for me. As to Congress... they can be as dunderheaded as Christos wants, since they've earned no respect lately anyway.
The Score: I can appreciate that we're taking time to set up things spiraling downward, but the pacing on this one does feel a bit slow with a lot of dialog about "what do we do/surely this will pass" being repeated by various characters.
3.0 out of 5 stars