Season 11, Issue 03
“A House Divided”
Writer: Christos Gage, Art: Rebekah Isaacs, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings, [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been saving the world from the forces of darkness 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… until now.
After a supernatural attack decimated San Francisco, killing thousands, the public turned against magical beings. Many left America for other dimensions or countries. The US government announced heightened security against supernatural entities… And, until the crisis passes, they’ll be relocated to a “Safe Zone” -- an internment camp.
Page 01: We join two random people out for a stroll on a quiet street in the aftermath of the public disaster in San Francisco. They’re both jumpy and easily startled. But when the gentleman tries to calm the woman he’s walking with that they’re just hearing the wind, the notion is disabused by a shadowy shape along the rooftops above them.
Out twosome try to run for it, but the dark shape is too fast. Our man is tackled with a short scream by our woman.
Page 02: It turns out though, that this isn’t a monster attack… not literally, anyway. It’s a Slayer.
She’s tackled our man, because though disguised, he’s been recognized as a Satyr… one of the supernatural who are supposed to be relocating themselves to an internment camp during this crisis. Obvs, some supernaturals require a little assistance with going where they’ve been ordered.
Our Amazonian Slayer is a hard-ass, and completely unsympathetic toward our human woman who is the better-half to our Satyr gentleman.
From down the block, Dawn and Xander see what is going down and start to intervene. But Amazonian Slayer pulls out a badge and identifies herself as an Authorized Slayer Peacekeeper.
Dawn and Xander back down, as Satyr is taken into custody for an enforced ride to the Safe Zone.
Page 03: Meanwhile, Buffy and Giles are together in some cubby hole office with a guy who is giving off sleaze-vibes and his multi-armed bodyguard.
They come to get Giles some official papers so he can stop walking around as a billboard for a magically affected person, should he get stopped for any reason. They’re both assured by Sleazy that they’ll pass inspection easily.
But, there is a slight hitch. The price has suddenly gone up on those papers since Buffy and Rupert sat down. Now, it’s gonna cost ‘em a bit more, something that Buffy is ticked off about. Sleazy just tells her it’s the effects of supply and demand. Though, if the two preferred they could be bodyguard’s dinner that evening, instead.
Commentary: This part is a little weird, because they guy is acting like he has no clue who he is speaking to, and since she’s Buffy The G’Damned Vampire Slayer, I find that a bit difficult to believe. And if he does know her, and just doesn’t care, I’m finding his lack of far more heavy duty muscle unconvincing for this scene, if he was planning a shakedown for more money.
It’s kinda like Steve Austin here… you can’t keep having everybody know who Buffy is by now, but then play off like somehow a bad guy doesn’t know her… Especially a bad guy that has been doing some business for her. He’d surely have learned both who Buffy and Rupert are while putting together some convincing documents for the latter, and hold off the shakedown for somebody who hasn’t “destroyed her own home town” and won every major world-shaking battle she’d ever been in.
Page 04: Buffy and Giles share a side glance. They both spring into action as one: he with a spell work against Sleazy, and Buffy easily getting the best of Multi-Armed.
Commentary: That was pretty awesome. I love it when heroes can just tell what each is thinking and follow through on a plan without any words, and it’s extra cool when it’s Buffy and Giles.
(Or Faith and Angel.)
Page 05: Sleazy decides that the original price is actually more than fair -- because customer satisfaction is a priority, and all.
Buffy leaves them with a warning about any ideas of a double cross, threatening that she has connections that can land Multi-Armed in the Safe Zone, and Sleazy in Gitmo.
Sleazy offers that her contacts apparently aren’t enough to get her forged documents to help out her friend, though. He smirks that the world is changing again, and she’ll have to end up a lot more like himself if she’s gonna survive it.
Page 06: At the girls’ apartment, Dawn and Xander are happy because Dawn was certified fully human, despite obviously not being. But the monks’ original spell works to create her is still in effect and nobody batted an eye during her scans.
But it’s a different story for Willow, who has been put in the position of either working for the Department of Defense program, or exiling herself to the Safe Zone as well. Dawn complains it isn’t fair because Wills is human -- she only knows magic. But Willow points out that the summoner of the dragon attack was probably just a person who knew magic, too.
Besides, she wants to go because some of her students have already been rounded up for being magic users, even if they can barely conjure this soon into their training. She knows that people are demons are being housed together, under cramped conditions and wants to make it clear to anybody with any ideas that the vulnerable looking future Wiccans are protected.
Commentary: I liked the development of the Slayers being recruited as a Federal Police Force, just because as soon as Willow shared Buffy’s power through the Scythe, fascism was this dark shadow hanging out in the corner behind them. And we saw bits of this through Simone. It’s logical that some Slayers would WANT to use their power to lord over others, and this crisis is the perfect vehicle to bring out those base emotions.
But I’m less pleased with the development that somehow everyone can now detect a person who is barely even able to access magic. Like Wills students, who we’ve only just met and couldn’t possibly know enough to tap anything this quickly. Unless just being in the room with Willow is enough, which I suppose could work, if we’d just received a line or two about hysteria making even casual contact with magic wielding people a cause for suspicion and investigation.
It all feels like this has escalated just slightly too quickly.
Page 07: The gang talk about Giles being protected now, as long as he stays invisible and starts acting is supposed age… like going to school… which does feel like hell right there.
As they talk, Spike comes in and Buffy immediately asks if the S.F.P.D. could spring some credentials for him. The answer is a negative. In fact, Robert has been getting the cold shoulder around the department just for being associated with Spike.
And just to make things clear, the police department not only revoked Spike’s police consultancy, but also made sure to issue him a ticket to the Safe Zone. Even people who have worked with the Scooby Gang closely have been turned away by the attack and the Feds’ policies in its aftermath.
Commentary: I wish we’d seen that scene, rather than be told about it. I would’ve liked to check in with Robert and the police department’s whole Supernatural Crimes squad to get their perspective on how things have suddenly, radically changed. And watching Spike not only get fired, but handed a notice to report to the Safe Zone could’ve been a powerful image.
Page 08: Giles points out how dire things have become, by suggesting to Spike that he’s agreeing with Andrew, and Spike should flee to Europe. Spike suggests that it’s too late to try to run, but Buffy accuses him of avoiding going just because of her. She suggests that she’d go with him, if they need to run for it.
But at that moment, there is a loud banging on the apartment door, with a voice shouting that they’re there to take Willow Rosenberg and William the Bloody into custody.
Page 09: At the door is our Amazonian Slayer, who is smirking in Buffy’s face right off the bat. Buffy complains that they weren’t to report until Friday, but Giantess tells her that they’ve been evaluating flight risks and Willow and Spike are to report now, instead.
She tells Willow and William they have fifteen minutes to pack, which Buffy complains about. She also uses “we”, and the Slayer points out Buffy is covered by the Slayer Exemption, even if she’s being useless. She suggests that Buffy go back to being a waitress, since it’s the only career that ever seemed to stick with her.
But grinds out for her to get out of her house, now.
Commentary: I know that this will probably just make things worse, or at least not make any difference in what is happening. But I really want Buffy to punch this hag out cold. She’s a petty, awful person, clearly.
Page 10: Instead of leaving, Giantess Amazonia gets closer into Buffy’s face and rags on her for having used to realize that they were created to fight the supernatural, to be the last and best line of defense against creatures who want to feast on humanity. She questions what the hell happened to her.
Buffy tells her she lived longer than other Slayers, long enough to learn that life isn’t that black & white, and not everybody - no matter what their origin - can be painted with the same brush.
Giantess Amazonia instead tells Buffy that she instead only became weak and developed a fetish for vampires. “Once you Drac, you never go back, am I right?”
Page 11: That’s enough for Buffy. She tackles Giantess Amazonia out of her apartment, and down a flight of stairs. She dares her to call her weak again, but her fellow Slayer isn’t impressed and does so, despite Buffy’s hands around her throat.
She knees Buffy hard up into her gut to get her off.
Commentary: See, I wanted this so. It feels good when Buffy shows why she’s THE Slayer, still [even though, I do remember that actually Faith is THE Slayer… she’s never had the confidence to embrace that]. But I can’t help but think that an assault on a deputized agent of the Feds is going to go anywhere good.
Page 12: Giantess Amazonia give Buffy a left elbow to the face, as they both regain their feet. She calls Buffy “soft” and a “traitor”. She tries to follow up with a right cross, but Buffy grabs her wrist, and tells her she’s an amateur.
Page 13: Buffy flips her over the stairwell railing, sending her down several flights to the lobby floor below.
She jumps down after her, calling her out for being a “bully”. As she lands, she punches Giantess Amazonia in the back of the head and shouts at her that everything she knows, she learned from the original.
Commentary: Yes! You tell her, Buffy!
Page 14: Buffy stands over her, and tells her that she doesn’t tell Buffy anything. She orders Giantess Amazonia to leave her building, but Spike tries to tell her that she’s got…
G.A. speaks into a wristwatch radio to give an order.
Suddenly, the front door of the apartment blows in with a roaring fire.
Page 15: Giantess Amazonia finishes Spike’s interrupted warning, that she’s got backup.
But Buffy does, too, as the two groups glare at one another.
Page 16: As the fight spills out into the streets, one of the Federal Slayers asks for permission to use lethal force against Spike. Giantess Amazonia says it’s more like encouraged. Buffy thanks her for clearing that up for her, as she delivers a gut kick to her.
Two Slayers try to stake Spike, but he’s able to use one of the overeager girls to knock the other one down. He shouts at them to stop this.
Page 17: As people flee from the fire bursts of a spell caster on Team Fed, going up against the blasts of Wills, Spike tips a car over into the path between the two opposing teams.
He shouts at everyone to stop, and tells them all that he surrenders. They don’t need to keep fighting until somebody, probably a bystander, ends up getting hurt.
Commentary: I wish that Willow had a chance to put out our pyro, first though. His entrance was a too irritatingly comic-bookish and I immediately thought of him being a geeky Andrew-ish sort. It would’ve been nice if Willow had doused him in flame retardant before Spike called a truce to give up.
But, I can’t fault Spike for going into custody, considering that San Francisco doesn’t need another traumatic block of destruction over a useless fight. Buffy and her friends are outmatched in this setting, when they can’t globe trot aboard purloined submarines or hide out in mystic mountains.
He doing the right thing, but the thing he’s submitting to isn’t right.
Page 18: With Spike surrendering himself to the camp, Willow decides that since she already said she was going, she may as well surrender to custody now, too.
Buffy tells a not-for-any-good-reasoning smug Amazonia that they’re not going alone. She decides to waive her Slayer exemption and join Willow and Spike in the camp.
Giantess Amazonia smirks that she’s not the one to stand in the way of true romance. She tells them they’ve still got fifteen minutes to pack… starting that second.
Page 19: In her bedroom, Spike tries to dissuade Buffy from joining him in what is sure to be unpleasant conditions. But Buffy tells him she has to do it, because what the government is instituting is wrong. And standing against injustice is really what being the Slayer is about, no matter what the “storm trooper” thinks.
Page 20: Giles notices Buffy taking the Scythes and wonders if they’d even allow her to keep that, but Buffy assures him they’ll only be taking it from her dead, cold hands.
Everybody hugs them goodbye, miserable at the unfairness of this whole thing.
Page 21: Willow, Buffy, Spike, and Willow’s protégé are loaded aboard a bus. Spike takes affront at being ordered to the back, but it’s pointed out to him that the back windows have been heavily tinted to protect them from the sunlight.
However, the Slayer has no issues if he wants to sit up front for a better view….
At the back of the bus, he and Buffy try to console one another that they can make it through this.
Page 22: It takes hours before they show up at the internment camp, which is a prison in the middle of a mountainous desert (The far east side of California? Far west of Nevada, or Utah?). The prison grounds have been surrounded by a mystical shield.
(Actually, it looks like this could be the Grand Canyon, but if so, that was some seriously fast construction going on.)
The Good: I do like some of the world building we’re doing here with America slipping backward into some of our most egregious errors out of more fear.
I loved that wordless side glance communication between Buffy and Rupert, agreeing without any obvious signal that Sleazy and Multi-Arms were going down.
I had fun with the confrontation between Giantess Amazonia and Buffy over who remembers what being a Slayer means, especially Buffy showing Amazonia that her size doesn’t mean squat against a real fighter.
I also liked that it was Spike’s choice to stop fighting the removal order for the good of everybody around them.
The Bad: Nothing bothered me (excepting the situation of course).
Other Thoughts: I do really wish we saw Robert and the S.F.P.D.’s take on this situation and the firing of Spike, rather than just being told about it in two panels.
I’m not sure I’m on board with Buffy going to a camp, rather than working her ass off to recruit Faith and sway the other Slayers onto her side that participating in rounding up innocent people - whatever their nature - isn’t the Just thing to do, from the outside. But I can understand her choosing to stand with Spike to make a point, also.
The Score: Other than the fist fight between Amazonia and Buffy, the pacing on this one was a bit too leisurely, considering that we’re talking about Internment Camps in America, again. But it was alright.
3.25 out of 5 stars
Next up will be BTVS, Season 11, Issue 04