(BTVS S11, Issue 4)
"Girl Blue" part IV
Story: Joss Whedon & Erika Alexander, Art: Jon Lam, Colors: Dan Jackson, Letters: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft's] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Rupert Giles is a Watcher, one of the few who guide the vampire Slayers in hunting and killing vampires and demons, and fighting against the forces of darkness. In the battle against Twilight, Giles was killed. But after a chaotic resurrection attempt, he was restored to life; however... instead of being returned to the world as a grown man[,] he is cursed to walk the earth as a teenager.
Recently, after a supernatural attack decimated San Francisco, the government has been cracking down on magical beings. Many, including Giles' friends, Buffy the Slayer, Wiccan Willow, and ensouled vampire Spike, have been sent to an internment camp called the "Safe Zone", while Giles was able to acquire a fake ID and - *sigh* - enroll in high school as a "normal" teenager.
At the new school investigating missing persons and a mysterious force, Giles has forged more than a partnership with the vampire Roux. Together they discovered Seed, a demon hired to drain the brains of the student body. But now, having learned more of Roux's story, Giles' investigation is far from over.
Page 01: Daybreak at Living Legend Academy Charter School in Los Angelos. Giles sits on the roof of the school, reflecting on his and Roux's eventual fates, and how 'Rupert Giles' really is.
Page 02: Some time later, Addy has been coaxed underground by Giles. He seems to be himself for the moment, and he give Giles more clues as to what the demon Seed/Peaches is up to: Trying to scale up his brain draining to momentous proportions. Driving everyone in the school, and perhaps beyond it, into a permanent state of chaos and insanity, not to mention the terminal stupids.
What the rich backers of Seed's is getting, the Webb Brothers, are getting out of the deal isn't immediately clear.
Giles and Addy consider reverse engineering whatever magic and/or device Seed has been using to perhaps turn the tables on the demon.
Commentary: Except they do so in confusing language and a page full of dialog that could've been handled in a simple paragraph. I've not been a fan of the dialog scenes in this series. And I still find exactly what is happening hard to keep up with because of the chaotic way the plot points are being doled out to us.
Page 03: Giles offers that Seed's ability to scale up his brain drain would require a large power source to work, something readily agreed to by Addy/Seed... for the demon has returned to taunt Giles in his friend's guise now.
Seed offers to Giles that there will be an eclipse later that day, which will act as the power source he needs to really ramp up. Rupert demands the release of his old pal, but Seed counteroffers that Giles could join him, the way mother and child should be. Seed is still calling Rupert its mother for unclear reasons.
Giles instead electrocutes Addison with an old pipe as a conduit, shocking Addy's body into collapse. Before departing the stunned body, Seed tells Giles to "Remember November" and promises to see him in hell.
Page 04: A short time later still, and Giles has gotten an ambulance for Addison. Addy warns Giles that Seed is a very dangerous demon, and to Rupert's reminder that he'd fought him before, reminds Giles that he lost before. He warns that Seed cannot be allowed to survive a second time. He also tells Giles that during his possession, he picked up that Rupert would be able to find him hiding nearby in a high place.
Rupert sees the St. Thomas Bridge looking over the school and realizes one of the towering spans would be perfect for the demon. He shouts out melodramatically, not caring for everyone nearby, that he's coming for "his son". A student tells him that was very theatrical, while at Giles' side, one of the dogs under the influence of Seed howls at him.
Commentary: The dogs is another confusing aspect I found. It seems to be haphazardly referred to several times, but it hasn't really led to anything. Apparently, dogs just don't like Seed being around and are driven to howl whenever his presence is hinted as manifesting - such as when Its clearly keeping an eye on Giles' exclamations.
I can roll with it, but it felt like it was going to be something more than that with the focus on it.
Page 05: Later-later, Giles sits in an empty school lab. On the other end of his cell is Willow from the internment camp. Rupert has filled her in on what he's found, and she offers that the same eclipse that Seed intends on using, should also be usable by Giles to temporarily increase his own power to stop the demon's heart before it can invade somebody else, like it had to Addison.
Willow turns conversation to Giles' revelation that he thinks Roux may have killed some of the teachers at the school. She offers that though Roux sounds unique, if she's killed once, she'll kill again. Giles voices his dread that killing her as well may be necessary as hard as that may be.
Page 06: Giles offers he's not so sure that he's any more human after his resurrection than Roux would be after hers. But Willow tells him that he has to be prepared for the worst coming up, and wishes she could be there to help him through what may come.
Giles realizes that he's a monster hunter, as he always was, but he's also a monster, too.
[A little harsh, Giles. And I wish we'd gotten a flashback of some moments that would show us why Giles would think that, other than killing the vampire he has a crush on. For instance, Roden was human - evil, sorcery using - but human. Killing him could be what Giles is referring to... or it could go all the way back to summoning Eyghon.]
After he hangs up, he tells the not-so-empty-room that he can feel Roux behind him.
She speaks in diary entry, getting across that usually she'd have to kill Rupert for discovering her nature, but he's unique and she's having as much trouble with the thought of killing him, as he's having in thinking of killing her.
Commentary: I semi-like Roux, really. It took her personal history lesson last issue, but I've warmed to her to an extent. But, we can't overlook that she's been vampiring. I just don't see how this can end, except with her dusting.
I feel badly for Rupert, but yeah -- Roux's going to have to go.
Page 07: Roux and Giles discuss their possible death match coming up after Seed is done away with. He asks her why she killed Mr. Crowe.
Roux tells him that the dumb bomb had gone off, and the Girl in Blue couldn't think due to it. She'd gotten detention. Mr. Crowe wasn't in much better shape. Mr. Crowe got aggressive with Blue's confused non-answers, and she got frustrated. In that moment she picked up her book and clobbered the teacher to the head, stunning him.
Roux was in the ceiling watching over her, as was her habit. She couldn't let Blue go down into a Juvie hell, losing her standing at the school -- not over something that wasn't her fault over some jerk teacher. So she did the guy in, so there'd be no repercusions on her girl.
But, Truman was in the same detention....
Page 08: Truman thought Blue had killed Mr. Crowe and took off to tell all about it to Principal Boake.
Roux revealed herself to Blue, told her she had been keeping her safe and that she was the one who mattered. She sent her running from the room, while the vampire cleaned up.
Page 09: She doesn't go into it, but the only way this would've worked is if she revealed herself to Truman between detention and the principal's office. She lured him down into the basement by offering him immortality for his silence, but once there - Seed intervened and took the dumb kid for himself.
Giles guesses that the missing Ms. Wong was her doing, too. Roux tells Giles that Miss Wong wasn't a happy woman - crying all the time, lonely. Roux helped her out.
[Interestingly, I'm not sure Roux did this one. We see Ms. Wong hanging in the cafeteria. It's possible Roux didn't have a hand in killing her, only in getting rid of the remains for some unspecified reason. Maybe so Blue wouldn't see her hanging like that... maybe....]
Giles offers that he's not happy there either, and asks if Roux intends on ending it for him, too.
She responds that he's safe. She's worried more about Blue - about her losing her mind because of Seed's machinations and forcing her to help Blue out by saving her, by turning her.
Commentary: I am interested in Roux's connection to the Girl in Blue, also. Especially how she refused to use her actual name. Now that we're reaching the end, I'm assuming we'll find out just exactly why she's so into protecting this high schooler.
And I like the mature way that Roux and Rupert are discussing her vampirism and what that may mean for them later.
This is dialog that I'm actually enjoying, now that we're done with trying to sound obtusely hip.
Page 10: At Roux's plan to turn Blue into a vampire, Giles snaps at her for being a vampire. He immediately snaps a leg from a stool for a makeshift stake, while Roux banters that he's got bigger problems in his big destiny fight with Seed.
When she dodges out of reach of his stake, Giles throws a random beaker that happens to explode into a fireball at her.
But she's able to escape out into the school's hallways, before he can stop her.
Page 11: Roux leads Giles into the cafeteria, where the lunch time timewarping and brain draining are happening again.
She goes on the attack.
Page 12: Giles finds he can't stake Roux - not yet. But she's also not able to harm him, yet. Blue tries to help Roux by using another book-to-head attack, but Roux stops her and drags her away.
Rupert, thinking Roux is going to go straight to changing Blue into a vampire tries to intervene, but Roux summons the bulky security guards- the Sheffields.. the entranced bodyguards that her Sire set to watching over her after they'd tried to lynch her.
Commentary: I should've seen that! I should've noticed that the security guards were the same guys as the two brutes who'd been 'bounded' to Roux during her getting turned.
It's nice to see some continuity with them doing something on her behalf. It took one issue too long, I think, but things are coming together finally.
Page 13: Giles is briefly able to break away, but outside he runs into the weird thwip-line and gets tripped up. It's enough for the Sheffields to regain control of him. Roux has Rupert shoved into a locked closet, apologizing to him and telling him she really enjoyed holding his hand, a lot.
Rupert begs her not to hurt Blue.
Page 14: In the utility closet, Giles discovers Ebba's doll, something that Roux would never leave lying around haphazardly. He also sees her message written on the wall, "Remember me".
He realizes that Roux set him up to go wild, so that she could trap him here, not because she was going to hurt Blue - something he should've realized already, but because she intends to save the Girl in Blue. Something that she's done from the beginning.
Giles realizes Roux's intention to take his place in the battle to stop Seed on St. Thomas' Bridge.
But, Giles has three advantages that Roux lacks: 1) he's bound to the demon, and now uses this to open a connection to it and find Its exact location nearby, and 2) he knows a portal-opening girl who loves to help and 3) Roux didn't steal his cellphone.
Page 15: One call later and Dawn has portal'd Giles atop the bridge, where he sees Seed's machine of mind draining humming along and waiting for the eclipse in progress to reach its zenith.
Giles comes face to face with 'his son', who is atop the bridge next to his machine. Seed levitates Rupert enough to offer him to stay bonded with him and do great things, which of course Rupert isn't about to do.
Seed returns Giles' electrical blast from earlier, and sends Rupert into a fatal dive toward the water below...!
Commentary: Okay, the Dawn thing was a bit too convenient and clumsy; She stays off-panel and her portal is like, instant, and it's all just a tad too perfunctory to work well.
Page 16: As Giles plummets, Roux is there to grab him by the arm. She warns Rupert to stay out of the way and tosses him to safety. Despite Rupert's warning that Seed is too strong, Roux climbs up to stop him.
Commentary: And comic-physics is, alas, in full swing here: Giles' arm would've been pulled right out of its socket the way his fall and catch is depicted. He should be nearly unconscious from pain -- not dramatically shouting at Roux that he's right behind her to help.
Page 17: On the tower, Seed summons a storm, and uses lightning strikes to power up the permanent brain drain device. But Roux has made it to the bridge tower. With her vamp-strength, she's able to snap one of the cables providing a conduit to power the machine.
Before Seed can intervene, she's whipped it around his ankle and yanked him off of his perch, at the same time interrupting his powering of the device.
Page 18: Rupert makes it to the top of the span, but Roux and Seed have already fallen off of it. She holding a cable, and Seed clinging to her. She calls up to Rupert that she's okay, she knows how to stop Seed. Before, when Giles killed the demon, it was able to reanimate due to Giles' DNA... being reborn through his mortality, but Roux doesn't have that for him to use. He can't resurrect through her.
She admits to Giles that she's fallen in love with him.
She tells Giles she's got this: And uses the cable with power still flowing through it from Seed's machine, to electricute herself and through her body, Seed.
Both are blown off of the bridge and into the bay below.
Commentary: I liked this. I liked this power moment for Roux, helping the two people she cares for: Blue and Rupert.
Page 19: We rejoin the opening of Issue 01 with Giles making his way down through the dark waters toward his vampire semi-girlfriend.
At the bottom of the bay, Giles creates a bubble of air to breathe and cradles the burnt Roux. Seed was killed outright, but Roux is barely holding on. Rupert asks if she can heal, but she says no - the damage it too great.
Rupert offers her his blood to help, but she refuses. She tells Rupert that she's so very tired and that death isn't worth living. He admits to Roux that he loves her, too.
Page 20: At the bottom of the bay, under his bubble of air, Roux turns into ash. Rupert takes time to bury the remains under the sea bed and erects a makeshift grave marker.
In the following days, he ruminates on her as things at the Academy return to normal.
Page 21: With Seed's defeat, everyone - including Addy - return to normal. Even the punk-ass turns out to be a dedicated student when he's not being driven by the power of the magical dumbing. The school's grounds, run down as they were, is suddenly being cleaned back up by student and faculty volunteers.
And Blue herself shows more life and joy.
Page 22: Giles offers to Blue's memory that he'll keep an eye on the Girl in Blue, but he thinks she'll be just fine - as will he.
The Good: I did end up liking the chemistry between Giles and Roux, but I'm glad that the story ended the only way it could and be believable.
A lot of my improvement in opinion of Roux came from last issue and the dialog in this one, which was less obtuse and more mature and straight forward. I also liked that Roux's vampire nature wasn't simply ignored by the story to make her a more heroic counterpart for Giles.
Finally with Rupert and Roux, I liked how both tried so hard to play the roles of monster and monster hunter, and yet neither's heart was really in it, so neither could follow through.
The Bad: Okay - the power yell of vengeancing in a crowd of people was a bit too silly and over the top.
Other Thoughts: I did feel the final battle against Seed was a bit too pat and easy to resolve, and Roux and Rupert's final moments was a bit too treacly. I also didn't really like how Dawn was Ex Machina but also kept fully off panel and only one line of dialog.
It also felt like the connection between 'Mother' and Seed was woefully underutilized, and the demon's use in general was haphazard - especially when it came to its possession powers.
Finally, the Sheffields under Roux also felt weirdly underutilized. And their hanging fate felt wrong. If they were bound to Roux, should'nt they have followed her into death, too? It felt like their presence was entirely neglegible.
The Score: It was better than okay, but still a disappointment when we have so few issues really focusing on Giles. I wanted more of an intimate look at Rupert, and that's not here.
3.50 out of 5 stars