BTVS, Season 11, Issue 7
Writer: Christos Gage, Artwork: Rebekah Isaacs & 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 formely 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, the government forced magical beings (including Buffy, Willow, and Spike) into an internment camp. While working as a trustee, Buffy learned that their captors have a sinister master plan: to drain all supernatural creatures of their magic!
Page 01: We open in the camp, where the various supernatural internees are watching a news conference by the Secretary of the Supernatural, Ophelia Reyes.
She's there to assure everyone that the government meant what they said about the 'Safe Zone' being a temporary measure after the devastation in San Francisco, and she's there to proudly tell everyone that they've found a solution for most, but not all alas, of the interned.
All they have to do is voluntarily submit to having their supernatural energies drained, and they get to not only be released, but to have their status normalized, their record expunged and reintegration assistance for those who require it.
Willow bites her lower lip, as Calliope gives her a worried side glance. Buffy and Spike hold hands and look at one another. Presumably, Spike is one of the "most" who won't be helped out by draining his supernatural energy - not without dying, anyway.
Commentary: Ugh. I'm not sure how to take all of this, honestly. There is something about Ophelia that makes me kinda believe that she really does want to help everybody get to leave the facility. But, I'm also naturally skeptical of authority figures, and she's with the government on top of it... I just can't bring myself to actually trust her.
And of course, I'd be interested in just how they're going to address those who simply cannot have their energy removed, like the vampires. (And it is bothering me that I care about them being treated fairly... damn it. But it is, because as far as we know, they've been playing by the rules for the most part, and not being an active threat following Harmony's guiderules.)
Page 02: As a Drider is shouting that without his magic, his anatomy wouldn't function, Ophelia's conference is addressing that very point. She tells them that she realizes this solution can't work for everyone, and they're still trying to find an option for those whose magic is necessary for survival.
She points out that for others, magic is intimately tied to cultural or religious identity and that this procedure is not being imposed involuntarily on anyone.
But four demons at least immediately want to find out more. As Buffy takes their names to get them more details, Willow worriedly asks Spike if he realizes what that "friendly" offer really was. He tells her he knows; Ophelia offered them a carrot, and next up will be the stick.
Page 03: Later at Buffy and Spike's trailer, everyone sits in worry. Buffy tells the other two that already fights are breaking out between those who want to take the deal to get out of there, and those who can't or won't give up their magic.
Spike points out that there are decisions to be made closer to home, pointing out that Buffy and Wills aren't trapped there any longer. Buffy, of course, refuses to just leave Spike behind. And Wills isn't wild about not having their magic on the outside to bust Spike out.
But Willow's worry is a lot bigger than just themselves. She points out that the machine she saw them working on is larger than some individual process. She asks them if anyone there doesn't think that the government will eventually be zapping the whole country to drain magic from everyone and everything. Nobody doesn't think that's coming.
Commentary: And, I don't think she's thinking big enough: It wouldn't shock me if the NSA or Pentagon didn't put it onboard a secret military satellite and have it give the whole globe a good scan. With, or without other nations' input on the subject.
Page 04: This leaves them in a circular argument: They can't find a way to bust out from within, and without their powers, Buffy and Willow don't see a way to bust everyone out from outside.
A fight draws Buffy's attention outdoors, and Wills uses this to go have a chat with her coven about what to do.
The fight is one of those skirmishes between those who can walk away, and those who simply can't.
Page 05: At Willow's trailer, her coven members have the expected reaction. When one of them questions that if the deal is so great, why isn't Willow taking it, she has to admit that she might, as well. She offers that she doesn't see the situation getting any better for any of them, if they refuse.
Page 06: Calliope follows Wills inside, not understanding how Willow can ask them to actually consider having their connection to the natural world stripped of them.
Willow offers that things aren't that simple. She also tells her that she's got a plan brewing and asks Calliope to trust her. Calliope offers a romantic kiss as her answer.
Page 07: Wills pushes her off, telling her that it isn't right. Calliope offers that she's going to break up with Linda, and has been thinking about how to tell her. Willow offers that she should at least wait long enough for them to get back to the as-normal-as-they'll-get world, first, before she makes such a drastic decision.
As Calliope leaves, another of the coven members comes in and wonders when it would happen, if they did agree.
Willow can only give her a T.B.D. for the moment.
Page 08: Days later, a press briefing has been set up outside the Safe Zone with a spokeswoman. She offers that President Malloy has kept his promises about the Zone being a temporary measure, and that those who are no longer any more dangerous than other people are getting back to their lives.
A reporter asks if they can speak to anyone inside the Zone, but this is denied for security concerns, though she does point out that anyone who has left the Zone is free to speak to anyone they wish.
Next is a question about those who can't or won't accept the draining of their magical energy, and Ms. Wise assures them that they're working hard on a solution for everyone.
[Naturally, it's fraught with double-meaning, and could be sinister if you didn't trust a spin-doctor as far as you could toss her ... *cough cough*. But follow-up questions with bite won't be something for Ms. Wise to deal with.]
Page 09: In the Safe Zone Administration Building, Buffy is busy being outraged that the government sent in Riley and Sam to "twist [her] arm" into agreeing to have her powers stripped from her. She points out that she's made a lot of enemies, and they're asking her to be defenseless.
Sam points out that being a "normal person" and being "defenseless" are two different things. She points out that Buffy still knows how to fight, and she'd be able to exercise her second amendment rights like anyone else.
Buffy sarcastically asks if she still has those rights, considering the 4th amendment against unlawful search and seizure hasn't seemed too solid, lately.
Riley guesses that Buffy's real major concern about all of this is less to do with her own powers, and more to do with Spike.
Page 10: Riley tells Buffy that the Safe Zone has been depopulated by half, so Spike will actually get more resources toward his food needs, now. He and Sam also tell her that they've got the same concerns that she has, but they've been to San Francisco with the relief effort, and they've seen the same destruction - on a smaller scale - before this.
Riley and Sam believe that the people they've come in contact with in the government are sincere in their desire to find a way forward in the best way they know how. He asks her to trust him that this is the best option for the world they're living in right now.
Commentary: I'd feel better if Sam had said that, honestly. She seems far more level-headed than Riley often comes across as. And though I like that he and Sam care about Buffy, and Riley doesn't even hint that he's still bitter about Spike, I just don't trust his trust in the politicians.
On the other hand, I can't see any other way out of this, unless Wills can somehow perform an energy drain that only mostly sucks out what she and Buffy have & store it in the Scythe. Then they can go through with the machine drain, where it will only drain what's left to trick its sensors.
Or Dawn takes them to a magic realm with a Key Portal, and then uses her Key Goddess powers to restore them to full energy... which would be interesting, if they run with that, and have Buffy and Will's powers start acting wonky upon their return to Earth... hmmm....
Page 11: At that moment, Calliope is standing outside of the gates, having agreed to the depowering. Wills asks how she's doing, and Calliope reports that she's sad. She tells her it's like she lost something, but she can't quite remember what it was.
Willow promises to call her to check up on her.
Lake Stevens is there with her clipboard, and walks up to mention to Willow that she couldn't help but notice that Will didn't say she'd actually see Calliope. She questions whether Wills is really going to pass on the amnesty deal.
Page 12: We don't know what Wills is going to do, because we time skip to later than night. Buffy is breaking up another fight. This one is between a werewolf and a vampire. The vampire is accusing the werewolf of turning his back on his own kind, but he points out that as a werewolf, he and the vampire are not "own kind"-related.
In fact, Werewolf is glad to be rid of his lycanthropy. Vampire shouts that he knows what comes next when the traitors all leave - that the rest of them will simply be "disappeared" for good.
Our Wolf replies, "It's hard to tell 'cause I've got the face of a wolf, but this is what I look like when I don't care." [Which does seem a bit dickish.]
The vampire promises to make him care by taking him out "with me!".
Page 13: Buffy grabs hold of the Wolf from behind, while giving a flying kick to vampire (who has taken on bat-man form). The fight is broken up, but not before vampire rants at Buffy for taking the humans' side, even when they're kicking her in the teeth and getting set to destroy somebody she claims to love.
Page 14: Later that evening, Spike is insisting that Buffy is going through with the drain and that's that. Buffy is still refusing, and asks Willow to back her up on the government being able to simply assassinate them once they're powerless.
But Willow can't - she tells there just wouldn't be anything in it for the government, once they're regular people again. And she points out, that's really why she and Buffy have been dragging their feet on taking the deal: They're being faced with not be special, anymore.
Commentary: I really like that Willow is the one to face that maybe she wants to cling to her powers, because that makes her feel more special than other people. We've seen her in past seasons (especially 6, 8 and 9) wrestling with herself and how she relates to her powers. It's nice that she recognizes that part of her real problem, is just not wanting to be "normal".
Page 15: Willow goes on to tell Buffy that they gave up their powers in Tibet, but they knew that if things got tough, they could undo it. And they keep telling Xander, and before her Key powers - Dawn, that they were just as valuable as anyone. But she and Buffy don't actually want to be like them.
Buffy argues that she doesn't buy that argument, because Xander has proven himself to be valuable without powers, and that being a Slayer has caused her nothing but problems. But Willow points out that magic has caused herself trouble, too, but she still doesn't want to go back to being without it. And Buffy doesn't want to go back to normal, either.
Page 16: Willow tells Buffy that there is nothing they can do while being interred. She leaves Spike and Buffy to consider the bleak options, but tells them that the following day, she's going to take the deal. She'll understand if Buffy simply won't.
Commentary: Yeah, I really liked the whole thing with Willow being the one to recognize her own weakness when it comes to wanting to be somebody with special powers, not matter how much pain they've caused in the past. Her dialog was especially strong in arguing that the reason they don't want to give up their powers is because they feel more special with them, than without them.
And it really shows a depth maturity after all she's been through, that she's the one who is ready to give up those powers and find another way to feel value in herself, especially after S6 and S9.
I really like the way that the comic series has developed this strand of Will's character.
Page 17: Later at Spike and Buffy's trailer, he tells her that he can take care of himself. They end up having sex, as it's implied that Buffy has recognized that Willow is right about resistance only coming from outside of the camp.
Page 18: The following morning, Buffy gives a teary good-bye to Spike, as she and Willow leave internment for the magic-draining procedure.
Page 19: In the "Procedure Room", Buffy and Willow put their hands on a panel. Attached to the electronic device is a globe with branch-like tendrils attaching it to the panel machine they're touching.
A moment later, and it's over -- they're both powerless. Again, and possibly permanently this time.
Page 20: On their way to the exit, they both admit to feeling sad and hollow. But Buffy tells Willow that physically, she doesn't tell all that different.
She discovers she is though, when Amazonia-Jordan tosses the Scythe to her, and she's knocked onto her butt in the dirt.
Page 21: Willow helps Buffy up to another barb from Jordan about Buffy being the "Chosen One". Buffy blows it off, and tells Will that she was just surprised by how heavy the Scythe actually is.
They board the bus back to civilization.
Commentary: Again, I really don't like the way that Buffy is able to retain the Slayer Scythe. It just makes less and less sense as we go along. This is especially true now, when Buffy isn't technically a Slayer now. When Faith held the Scythe in S7, she felt like it belonged to her before she returned it back to Buffy.
It seems like Jordan would also feel that pull, and she's the personality type to easily buy her demanding to keep the Slayer weapon, now that Buffy has been "dethroned". It just isn't making any sense to me how nobody seems to ever challenge her for "the right" to wield "their" weapon.
OTOH, it'd be neat if Faith felt a sense of ownership over the Scythe, because she IS the actual Chosen One, and has been since S2 when Kendra was killed by Drusilla. But I got the sense in S7 that all of the Slayers would have a feel for the weapon. Although, that could just be an assumption I always had, without hard evidence. It's been a bit too long since I've seen a S7 episode.
Page 22: Buffy looks over her shoulder worriedly, to see Spike still behind the bars, watching her go....
The Good: I liked the fallout of the announcement about the magic-drain to allow prisoners to be released. But especially the discussion (sometimes a bit heated) between Buffy and Willow about why they don't want to relinquish their powers. And I love that it is Willow who admits that she wants her magic, because it makes her feel more special than other people, despite badly she feels about feeling that way.
I also liked the way that Riley and Sam were deliberately brought in, because of the government's knowledge that they're close to Buffy (well, Riley, anyway). And I like her anger at feeling - correctly in my opinion - that they were brought in just to manipulate her into accepting the deal.
The Bad: Nothing irks enough to place here.
Other Thoughts: Jordan. What is this woman's problem?! What a bitca.
And, I'm still having a lot of trouble with Buffy being allowed to keep the Scythe without an argument. It just feels way too convenient for later, and not realistic. But I'm not putting it in the bad, it's just a small problem in the storytelling logic for me. I also do wish that at least one Slayer seemed more ambivalent about Buffy being imprisoned at all, even though they're one of the guards. With Jordan being almost a cartoon, we could've used a more humane Slayer struggling with helping the government.
The "next issue" cover promises Faith! YES!!
The Score: I liked this issue, especially Willow's dialog justifying why she's going to take the deal and recognizing the issues she has with going "back to average" (as if, Wills...).
3.75 out of 5 stars