harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

BTVS reviewed: Season 11, Issue 04


Season 11, Issue 04

Desperate Times

Writer: Christos Gage, Pencils: George Jeanty, Inks: Dexter Vines, 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 and killed thousands, the government cracked down on magical beings. Those who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave our dimension have been forced into an internment camp called the “Safe Zone”… including Buffy, Willow, and Spike.

Page 01: We open on Spike and Buffy having an argument. She wants Spike to do something for his own strength, but he’s refusing. It quickly becomes obvious that what Buffy is pushing Spike to do is to feed from her, implying that the government is being stingy about keeping the vampires fed in the camp.

Commentary: And NO BUFFY… no, no,  no, no. I get the whole Angel-thingy, because he was literally dying and all. Spike isn’t dying. He may be hungry, but he’s not desperate and I am really loathing this development.

Page 02: Spike finally does feed from her neck, but as he feared, he doesn’t stop until Buffy shouts that he’s taken enough and pushes him off.

He tells her that was the last time, looking sick with himself. And Buffy isn’t looking as confident as she was a moment ago in his ability to stop himself, either.

Commentary: I do appreciate this, though. I’m glad that they made Buffy have to stop Spike, rather than him having super-willpower but I do wonder at his lack of reaction to having Slayer blood, overall.

You’d think there would be more to it, considering how powerful as Slayer’s blood is. But whatevs… maybe we just cut away too quickly.

Page 03: Sometime later, at least a few days for it to make sense, Buffy and Spike wander camp where Spike can’t let go about Buffy having pushed him into supplementing his rations with herself.

It’s made more clear that the rations are on the skimpy side, and the vampires are only getting fed once a week, leaving most of them starving by midweek.

Despite the uncomfortable-vibes in the immediate aftermath of his feeding from her, they hold hands.

Page 04: Buffy and Spike, in fact, were on their way to the mobile center to receive Spike’s rations. In the line, one of the New Breed vampires has a freak out over how little blood they’re receiving. He transforms into a man-bat and charges up into the energy shield holding the supernatural prisoners… oh, sorry: I mean holding the supernaturals for their own safety.

He hits the ground, where Spike points out that this isn’t his first attempt, and he’s only wasting the blood they do get on healing the broken bones he gives himself by trying to charge out.

Trevor’s answer is to tell Spike that if they gang up on the Slayer, they can drink their full. Spike tells him that he was going to get his place in line back for him, but now he can just go to the back of it.

Spike tells Buffy she should go, before the others in line get riled up by her presence. They kiss.

Page 05: Buffy wanders over to Willow’s camper, where she’s still giving lessons - right now to her ace student, Calliope.

In the meantime, a few demons are belligerently demanding rations from the other demons… ostensibly to help them gain their strength and help bust them all out of there. Though, it stinks of a shakedown/protections racket than a real plan to defeat the soldiers/Slayers/force field holding everybody in the camp.

Buffy congratulates Calliope on now being able to summon a small bit of flame.

There seems to be some romantic vibes between Wills and Calliope, despite Calliope having a girlfriend on the outside.

Page 06: Buffy comments on how close Willow seems to be getting with Calliope, but Wills denies that there is anything like that happening. She comments that her and Calliope are living with three others in the tiny camper for safety’s sake, since the Wiccans are the only humans there, surrounded by demons who would no doubt like to make them a meal.

Willow complains about how the Slayers on guard duty aren’t interested in keeping the peace or protecting anyone inside the shield, short of open rioting.

Buffy notices the shakedown crew then, and gets a hard look on her face. She excuses herself from Wills for a minute, in order to remind the demons who is “king of the yard” and to get the rations back to their rightful owners. Mostly because, despite having “trustees” to keep the peace, they don’t seem interested in stopping the more brutish in the camp from taking advantage of the weaker.

Commentary: Yeah, if you’re getting the feeling this IS more of a prison than a FEMA camp, or something, than you are totally getting it. It’s very clear that the government is only doing the minimum that they have to, in order to keep things relatively calm but it doesn’t seem like the situation is getting any closer to a resolution as to what exactly to do with the demons who simply don’t have any way to return to their own homes.

Things are looking rather threadbare around the camp, and the Slayers - as per usual since the end of S8 - seem to be more of a problem, than a help.

I wish we’d see Vi, Rona, Leah, etc. to find out what they’re up to. Hopefully, with Andrew pushing the United States’ allies or the U.N. to do something about this (as if they could, though -- we are THE most pig-headed nation on Earth, when it comes to things happening within our borders, while everyone else is supposed to listen to what we have to say on any subject).

Page 07: The shakedown crew sees Buffy coming, and decide that they’ll show her a thing or two about interfering in their business. Which goes about as well as you might imagine, since none of them are that super powered.

Although, one of the demons does have a prehensile tail that he uses when Buffy is too busy bragging about her prowess to pay attention to the fact the fight isn’t over yet.

Page 08: Our reptilian demon tries to crush Buffy’s throat with his tail. Wills starts to cast a spell to intervene, but Buffy waves her off. She offers that she started the fight, so she’ll be the one to finish it.

She uses her Slayer strength to grab the reptile by his extended tail, and when he releases her in surprise, she swings him by it, and body slams him into the ground.

Page 09: From outside the fence, Giantess Amazonia shouts out to Buffy to goad her about how she could be joining them, if she wants.

Buffy tells Wills to get her around a corner of a camper. Once out of sight of her fellow Slayers, Buffy gets woozy on her feet. Willow immediately intuits what she’s been up to, because she’s taken to wearing scarves again to hide the fang marks. She asks Buffy how often.

The Slayer tells her that it’s just when Spike is struggling, because the rations they hand out aren’t enough. But Willow worries about Buffy getting weaker, when she needs all of her strength to stay safe in the “Safe Zone”.

She wonders if Spike might not be able to get a job on the vampire work crew. These are selected vampires that get to leave the camp for unspecified jobs, and while out in the local town, the locals have been selling them their blood.

But Buffy nixes that idea, because Spike tried. The authorities don’t trust him because of his relationship to the pain-in-the-ass that is Buffy. And plus, the night shift was quickly filled. They’re only looking for day workers now, which won’t work.

Commentary: Ugh. So now it’s not just an internment camp-turned prison, but a labor prison, too. Nice U.S.A… really. Let’s just go completely backward in that whole “dignity and rights” thing.

This is getting painful to witness. Of course, I shouldn’t be shocked with Faux Cheney in the White House, I guess.

The only thing I didn’t like about this scene was Willow being so blasé about Buffy’s choice, here. It feels like she should’ve been much more… disturbed appearing, than she was. Buffy’s playing a very dangerous game with her safety, and ultimately with Spike’s ability to control himself, and I wish we’d seen more evidence of Willow determining to demand to at least speak to Lake about increasing the blood rations for the entire camp population’s overall safety.

This feels too much like Willow’s all, “Ah well. Life is tough right now, so whatevs…”, and that just feels wrong.

Page 10: Spike joins them, having gotten his weekly ration. Which looks good for about two days. He asks Buffy and Willow if he missed anything, but they deny there is anything to tell. Wills jokes that she’s trying to start a movement to make Henna tattoos a thing.

Page 11: We skip to the end of the week.

Buffy asks Spike how he’s doing, before she goes off for a weekly call to Dawn. He assures her that he’s kept is blood supply lasting through the week, though he’s down to a teaspoon left in the bag.

After she’s out of the camper, he worries over having not eaten in three days to have even that little left to get through the night.

Buffy, in the meantime, asks for a status report from Dawn, who assures her that they’re working with a lawyer on Buffy’s case. But right now, everything basically remains in a holding pattern. Although, Dawn keeps hearing that the camp is a temporary measure and everyone should be home inside a year, tops. Buffy snarks about the difference between a month, or twelve.

Page 12: As Buffy is hearing from Dawn about the number of people in otherwise open-minded San Francisco openly voicing about how relieved they are that “their kind” aren’t about anymore, and telling how Xander is getting into fights over it, a wood imp is in the background.

He implores the supernaturals in the phone line to make their calls wisely. He offers that they must convince those outside to take their case to the public for assistance with the degrading living conditions. He also complains, a bit too loudly for his own health, about the Ogre and his shakedown crew promising revolution, but only ripping them all off of their rations.

Dawn hears the yelling, but Buffy tells her there is always somebody yelling around there.

Page 13: Buffy at first tries to ignore the latest kerfuffle, but she really dislikes bullies. And Ogre and his reptilian demon friend have decided that wood imp has a big mouth, and needs to be taught about keeping it shut.

As they begin beating on him, Buffy cuts her call to Dawnie short. She marches in their direction….

Commentary: Give it up for the wood imp, though. He’s completely right about everyone urging action on the outside to improve conditions. He’s also a brave guy, calling Ogre and Reptilius ‘traitors’, ‘parasites’ and ‘leeches’ to their faces. He must’ve known they were going to kick the crap outta him.

Page 14: This time out though, Ogre and Reptilius are joined by SquidBody, Multi-Mouth and Humanoid Insect. Reptilius assures his fellows that Ogre and he nearly beat her by themselves, so this’ll be easy.

Buffy puts paid to that, right quick, with her athleticism, and the judicious use of her fists and flying kicks. They all end up on the ground.

Page 15: But the fight has drawn a crowd to rush to the spectacle, with a Wookie being shouted to by Spike about what the latest shouting is all about.

When he finds out that Buffy is fighting the Ogre’s crew, Spike dashes out, despite the sun not being all the way down, and his being weakened already by the lack of regular meals.

Page 16: While Buffy is leap-kicking onto the face of Ogre, SquidBody and Multi-Mouth are on the ground. Humanoid Insect shouts at the others to hold her steady, so he can hock up some venom into her Slayer-face. In the meantime, Reptilius has grabbed a billyclub from somewhere.

With Buffy’s attention on Ogre, he clobbers her over the back of the head. He shouts to Humanoid Insect to kill her quickly with his venomous attack. But the fight isn’t nearly out of her, not over one blow to the head!

And that’s before a steaming mad, and steaming skinned Spike marches onto the scene, looking in a particularly murderous state of mind!

SquidBody has a sudden look of panic….

Page 17: As Spike goes into a particularly scary fang mode, he snaps off a pipe from a building as he passes by. Humanoid Insect tries to play he tough guy, but Spike very quickly gets him not only knocked to the ground, but impaled… and before he could venom on the Slayer, too.

Commentary: That is some scary looking Spike on that first panel! You can’t help but think that Spike may not be in control of himself because of a combination of hunger and rage at Buffy’s being threatened.

And just on seeing that panel, I was instantly afraid that Buffy was going to have to resort to beating him unconscious, or that he’d attack Buffy next and a late arriving Willow might have to take him out.

Page 18: With Spike having impaled one of his guys, and with the vampire clearly being out to actually kill, Ogre reveals an eye blast that he didn’t bother using on the Slayer -- for reasons.

It doesn’t connect, thanks to Spike quick dodge. And he doesn’t get a chance at another attempt. Spike side kicks Ogre into the solar plexus, and before he can recover enough to defend himself, he sees Spike’s fangs closing in on him.

Spike bites into Ogre’s neck, nearly ripping out a chunk of it - he eyes briefly turning red with violence.

Commentary: Geez… another nice, scary-ass Spike on that last panel. That is not a Spike I’d want to meet, and I’m still scared that Buffy isn’t going to be able to pull him back and he’s going to have to be beaten or magicked.

Page 19: In the meantime, SquidBody and Multi-Mouth are mistakenly thinking that Buffy is still the primary threat, and so try to hold her. She shouts at them to get off, easily throwing both of them off of their feet, instead.

On seeing Spike with blood all over his face, still in yellow-eyed fang mode, Buffy pulls him off of Ogre’s prostrate body. And though Spike nearly growls in her face, when she tells him he needs to stop, he pulls back. He’s able to return to his human face.

Commentary: And naturally, though out this whole thing -- no sign of any guards restoring order. And those useless former potentials don’t bother to get off their asses, either. I miss when the Slayers were the actual good guys - excepting Simone and the fools who followed her.

Now, it seems like the only decent Slayer left is Buffy… which just makes me miss Vi, Leah, that blonde with the baseball cap, and especially Satsu. I really have trouble believing that Satsu and Kennedy wouldn’t be out there raising a lot of hell over Buffy being incarcerated in an internment camp. Where the hell are they, Christos?!

Page 20: Later in their camper, Spike cleans up the blood from his face. Buffy calls him out on being out of control, and guesses it’s because he was starving himself and not telling her. He tells her he isn’t draining her strength, and leaving her vulnerable to every tosser in the camp, but she’s more worried that he’ll get so hungry, he’ll attack an innocent. And if that happened, the guards would dust him.

Spike knows the dilemma, and admits to Buffy that he’s been seriously thinking of trying to bust out and make a run for it. But Buffy points out he isn’t the first with that idea, and the Slayers killed them for trying to escape.

But Spike says he can’t see any other way, and they can’t keep going on like this… not for much longer. He tells her that if she has another plan, this would be the time for it.

Page 21: Buffy does have a plan, even if she’s not exactly eager about it.

Later that night, she approaches the fence. There waiting with a slow clap and some more snark, is Giantess Amazonia and the red head who wanted to dust Spike immediately.

She asks Buffy if she’s ready to get back to slaying the monsters, instead of “playing seven minutes in hell with them”. Buffy doesn’t bother responding to the taunt. Instead she offers a deal: Extra rations for Spike, in exchange for her becoming a Trustee inside of the camp, and keeping a semblance of order.

Page 22: And so Buffy gets a uniform, and becomes one of our ‘custodians’ as the only viable compromise to keep Spike fed….

The Good: It doesn’t affect scoring, but I really love the cover art! I also like Georges Jeanty’s work, and Dexter and Dan really support his drawings really well.

I like that Spike is wonderfully-Prince-special, and that Buffy had to push him off of her neck, rather than he being able to control himself after he started to drink from her.

I also really liked how Willow could guess what Buffy had been up to with Spike, based solely on her starting to wear scarves again. That was kind of funny, in a grim manner.

I definitely felt the battle scenes were really good in this issue, but especially that terrifyingly out of control Spike.

The Bad: It’s in character for Buffy, but I DO NOT like her allowing Spike to bite her. There were other ways to handle this… cutting a wrist and bleeding into a cup, for instance. Still gross, but not nearly as dangerous.

I really wish that Willow was handled differently when it came to her reactions to realizing that Buffy was feeding Spike from her own blood. It felt really off how she basically had a non-reaction.

Other Thoughts: I would really like to see some of our familiar faces we’ve not seen in a while. I find it hard to buy that no Slayers are trying to help Buffy, rather than being jerks. And in fact, I’m finding it hard to understand why we don’t have at least a panel here and there of Kennedy or Satsu throwing a fit about any Slayer being in an internment camp (her choice or not). In fact, this would be a good opportunity for a panel with Andrew bitching out Kennedy for actually helping the government’s fascism [through Deepscan], instead of standing against it. Or meeting with his old Italian Slayer Squad about a possible mission to break Buffy, Spike and Willow out of their prison, even if it doesn’t get off the ground.

It does bother me that Buffy is trading her independence for Spike’s increased rations, but I can’t say it’s the wrong thing based on the circumstances. It would be nice, again, if we’d have at least one Slayer who is actually sympathetic to Buffy’s stand, though.

The Score: The issue, again, was okay to good.

3.25 out of 5 stars

Next up: Angel, Season 09 (DH‘s 11), Issue 02

Tags: buffy season 11 reviews

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