Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Season 12, Issue 02
Story: Joss Whedon, Christos Gage; Script: Christos Gage; Art: Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, Dan Jackson; Lettering: Richard Starkings, [Comicraft's] Jimmy Betancourt
Cover: Stephanie Hans
Blurb: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been fighting the forces of darkness since she was a teenager. Alongside vampires-with-souls Spike and Angel; her best friends, Wiccan Willow Rosenberg and normal guy Xander Harris; her sister Dawn; her mentor Giles; and Old One/human hybrid Illyria, Buffy has saved the world... a lot.
Harth, a future vampire who has Slayer ancestral memories meant for his twin sister, Melaka Fray, has come to our era. Forming an alliance of evil including Sunnydale's Mayor, Wolfram & Hart, and countless demons, his knowlege of future events foretells their victory.
Buffy and friends fight, but barely survive. To counter Harth's advantage, they go to the future to find out what Harth knows... only to meet Fray and her cop sister, Erin, who aren't about to let them change their past.
Page 01: We open with our heroes having just exited Dawn, Willow & Illyria's portal to the future. They've already run into a not-welcome wagon consisting of future Slayer, Fray, and her sister Erin... with weapons already pointed at them.
Buffy tries to calm the situation, but Erin is twitchy and immediately interprets Buffy's holding up the Scythe as a coming attack. She fires her heavy gun, blowing a concrete roof into pieces near our group. Meanwhile, Melaka fires her zap gun at Buffy, which the Scythe is able to deflect.
As Buffy tackles Fray and they both go over the roof's edge, Buffy complains that everytime she comes to the future....
Page 02: .. she's always falling!
Melaka points out that she does this sort of thing everyday, while Summers sucks at it. She uses momentum from a flying car hood to send Buffy hard into a wall, at the same time relieving her of the Slayer Scythe.
She tells Buffy it's only fair, since she broke Melaka's during her last time trip.
Commentary: Yeah, I have to tell you -- I really smiled wide for these two pages. It can't completely soothe that our current BTVS adventures are once again coming to an end, but the writing is snappy and the combat between Mel and Buffy is fun. I'm feeling awfully happy right now, despite that whole year skip - everything is reset thing they did.
Page 03: Mel [I have an issue with this -- it's too much, I think] tries to split Buffy's skull with the Scythe! But Buffy [okay, I'm mollified again] catches the blade between her flat palms - as she did Angelus' sword strike in BECOMING II. She follows this up with a high kick to Mel's face, taking back the Scythe and reminding that Mel won't have the Scythe at all if Buffy doesn't take it back to the past for Melaka to eventually find again later.
Melaka points out that time travel is hard, and that is a good reason to stop doing it.
Buffy, insulting Mel's whole world with references she can't possibly get, is finally able to tell Mel that she came there because her own time-travelling brother forced the issue by mucking around in Buffy's timeline.
Page 04: Melaka calls the fight off, saying Harth's involvement changes things -- and explains why a Lurk would've come to Mel to warn her of Buffy's incursion in the first place. She remembers that her sister is even now trying to blow up Buffy's friends and takes off back to the roof top before something bad happens that can't be undone [*pshaw*... yeah - like Illyria breaking Erin in half for instance].
Mel throws over her shoulder that she was def winning over the other Slayer this time out. Buffy doubts.
Page 05: As Buffy makes her way onto the rooftop behind Mel, hoping that her friends weren't hurt by Fray overzealousness, she finds instead Erin completely charmed by the two vampires.
Twirling her hair, and acting uncharacteristically shy, Erin tells Mel they read the situation wrong.
She pulls Mel aside to ask if vampires could still... y'know... even though they're technically dead. Mel calls that deviant and gross, inside of Buffy's hearing, who very quickly insists on getting down to the reason for their time hop.
Giles is thrilled at the prospect of digging into Gates' library.
Page 06: Giles finds references after his own time to an immortal madwoman, and Wills has to share that it's herself. She gives the potted version of her bringing Buffy forward in time to kill her, bringing a moment of tension between Buffy and Willow, and causing Faith to sympathetically tell them that must've been heavy.
Giles gets things back to their current problem by asking if Mel knows of any other 'immortals' who lived through Buffy's time. Melaka points out that she didn't know there were any until Future-Willow made the scene, but she knows who she can ask.
Buffy is less than thrilled to have to deal with the pervert, Gunther, again.
Angel takes command, stating that he, Buffy, Spike, Illyria and Wills will go with Mel to Gunther's pad and the rest will continue to try to glean helpful information about the last Slayer battle from Gates' library.
Mel side-whispers to Erin that she's getting the attraction now to Angel, but she tells her that her sis and Buffy are still deviants.
Commentary: I kinda like take-charge Angel, here, so I'm not even going to ding him for sounding a bit too bossy in circumstances where it's more Buffy's show, than his.
Page 07: Gunther is pleased in a creeper-way at Mel bringing more time travelers to meet him, and offers to buy them from her.
After that though, he's also able to tell them that he does have a client who he's known since he was a tad -- who hasn't seemed to have aged since. But he tells them that he can't give out client information. He swims off to phone "The Queen" and ask if she's willing to meet them to Melaka's annoyance. And Buffy continues to not like Gunther.
Page 08: Angel wonders if a future!Illyria could be this Queen, but present!Illyria shoots this theory down. If her alter-ego were present, she'd have detected her. She offers that the magical banishment must've encompassed her as well.
Spike side-talks to Angel about their not seeming to be present either. He tells Angel he'd like to know how he finally went out, but Angel, suddenly morose, tells Spike he doesn't need to know about his own fate. Whatever Angel has coming, he feels like he deserves it.
Gunther returns to tell the others that The Queen has agreed to see them -- and what's more, she apparently knows them!
Commentary: Sooo.. I think Spike and Angel assumed a lot about this future and themselves, but we can glide by it. After all, not being in Haddyn doesn't mean they aren't still in the world somewhere. On the other hand, I'm sure both would assume that when the shit was hitting the fan, they'd both be at Buffy's side when whatever happened did, and would've been either killed fighting for her, or ended up following her into banishment.
The conversation was a bit too shorthand, due to Angel moodily ending it. But I do like the bits and pieces being revealed to Angel and Illyria naturally without basically sitting them down and data-dumping the entire arc for their benefit.
Page 09: The team go to meet with this "Queen" and it turns out to be -- ugh, of course it does -- HARMONY.
Everyone rolls their eyes.
Harmony gives Spike, Buffy and Angel a huge, unwelcomed, hug and tells them how much she missed them after their horrible demises. She then shoots at Willow that she had hung around, but turned out to be a lot of no-fun, afterward. Wills pouts that they are there to find out the details of what happened, more than about how inconvenienced Harmony was.
Commentary: I had a few possibilities before this page: Drusilla, Amy -deratted again... I should've known that Joss being involved in the story, it would be Harmony. He seems to have quite the soft-spot for the annoying Cordette-turned-undead.
Her being retroactively put into the future and being at least aware of Dark Willow's existence is a tiny bit awkwardly thrown in there for this bit, but it's forgivable.
Page 10: Harmony, after talking about her fab life for a bit, gets back to the demise of our team. She reveals that it was all Buffy and Willow's fault that everything went to crapola. Y'see, with all of Buffy's changing the world and Willow's elevating the ordinary people into Wiccan magic users, the powers that were freaked out.
They decided that they were about to lose their specialness, and couldn't have that, so they set in motion a grand plan to put the supernaturals back into their place.
They formed deals with the vampires and demons to stop all of the change-the-world crap that Buffy and Wills were peddling to get things back to the status quo of the power brokers staying in power.
Page 11: Sometime during the final battle at Willow's women power center, something happened that stripped all of the Slayers of their abilities and memories of being Chosen. The confused women ran away from the carnage... all except for Buffy herself, who remained all Slayery.
Page 12: With Buffy severely outnumbered and clearly outmatched, Dawn opened a portal to a hell dimension, and Willow used some sort of magical hurricane thingy to carry all of the demons through.
But, with the fear that they'd find a way to re-open the portal from the otherside, Buffy went through to stand as guardian of the gate.
Harmony tells Buffy cheerily that she went to hell, and never came back.
Commentary: Gliding over rather baldly how - if Buffy was so outclassed on Earth - she'd have stood for 5 minutes on the hellside. That seems... uh... like a wasted, quick death. If anything Willow would make the most sense as being the one to stand at the gate and keep the demons from returning with her Dark Willow-immortal magic-super witch powers.
Yeah. Uh, while all dramatic and stuff and worrying for our Buffster -- it doesn't actually make sense, does it?
Page 13: As to Spike and Angel, there were two prevailing rumors: One- They both went with Buffy to make the last stand in hell, or Two- They just disappeared afterward, because no one ever heard from either of them again. Harmony imagines they probably stood in the sunlight.
Page 14: Willow and Giles couldn't go with Buffy because they had to seal the portal [Okay, maybe that makes more sense: Buffy only had to fight long enough to give time for the magic bearers to seal the hellgate. Okay- I withdraw the "not make sense" comment, though I'm not deleting it]. Dawn had to stay on this side in order to close the gate she had opened. And Xan stayed at Dawn's side cause he's whipped.
Dawn and Xan ended up with kids, or something. Harmony meant to check in on them from time to time, but just kinda didn't get around to it and then they were old and dead.
Harmony heard rumors that Giles continued to visit the portal and reinforce the seal until he finally did the get dead thing, too.
So that left poor, lonely Willow to stand guard and keep the portal sealed forever. [Or until Fray's time, when Dark Willow apparently decided that enough was enough, and it's hard to fault her for that, really.]
Commentary: Yeah, I am really, really happy guys with this final arc being used to deal with the hanging Fray timeline and how Buffy impacted it in the past. They picked an excellent storyline to end on -- though re-aging up Giles between seasons still sucks.
Page 15: In the meantime, everyone Willow had known died the way mortals do, but Wills kept using her energy to keep herself from aging, and keeping the gate closed. Until, finally, a new Slayer made the scene however that happened. Wills, now way strange and obvs not stable, yanked Buffy forward to put her down finally.
Commentary: Yeah. This is the only misstep in Harmony's tale. I don't think she'd have this sort of detail or interest in keeping up with Willow's tale of woe to know the particulars of her plot to kill herself by best-friend. This page could've been left out with a simple,
"Willow kept getting darker and weirder, and well, I had to bail on her. Sorry girl friend, but you were a real drag and I'm all about a sparkly life, y'know..?"
It wasn't necessary to make Harmony SUCH a detailed data-dumper.
Page 16: Buffy is shocked and saddened at Willow's fate and her guilt that drove her into wanting to die - and giving Buffy a 'justice' in doing the deed. Wills is also saddened and guilty over what she did in sending Buffy to hell.
Mel turns attention to Harth's role in all of this, and Harmony can't tell her much about him. He'd either got caught up in the magical hurricane and was sent to hell too, or it's possible that he returned to Haddyn and started to become an all powerful power broker behind the scenes as he worked on taking over the world.
This thought causes Harmony to worry over whether Harth likes blondes. But then she realizes that of course he would, turning her attention to how to survive the coming Harth Dictatorship.
Page 17: There is argument about how to stop Harth, with Angel wanting to go back and stop him then and there while Willow suggests staying in the future until Harth comes back, and then stopping him here. She suggests that history would save them from being killed, because they have to return to the past in order to participate in the reckoning.
But Spike points out the severe flaw in that logic. If they aren't there to participate, Harth has already won in the then, which changes the timeline. He comes forward with a massive power up, and they're all killed cementing the past change which leads to the future dominated by a psycho-vampire with god-powers.
Illyria tells them the logical thing is for them all to return to when they should in order to fight in The Reckoning, while she remains in the future to fight Harth if/when he returns with his power-up. Either way, he loses, and clearly her participation in The Reckoning was - at best - negligible or she'd have been more known in the here and now.
Buffy sides with Illyria's plan.
Commentary: I was going to go through their plans, and explain why Willow's wouldn't actually work the way she suggests, but then I realized I'm not a quantum theorist or well versed in possible temporal mechanics and when you throw in branching timestreams, the whole discussion would fall into a mass of a tangled hair ball and just no.
But I do see Willow's as the worst plan to force history to follow the parts they need, while avoiding the parts they don't want that ultimately would fail horribly.
Page 18: Angel rages at Buffy for giving in to 'destiny' and 'prophecies'. He points out that he's spent 200 years trying to chase down such prophesies and dealing with 'Fate' and he's done with it.
He tells the others that he's going to find a way to defeat Fate, save both times and save his loved ones and if he has to do it alone, he will.
Buffy is in the midst of telling Angel he's super inspiring [and maybe hinting strongly that Bangel isn't dead and buried again], when she's interrupted by Illyria calling Angel her warrior and offering to defy the gods themselves at his side.
Commentary: I loved this Angel page. It plays on all of Angel's history in worrying about his place in prophecy, the Shanshu thing, the attempting to avoid various prognostications, or forcing them... I loved this reference to his very character roots. I also loved his passion in arguing with Buffy that they're not just going to do what the history books says just because they're afraid they can't change it.
And his own show's theme, "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do" is again articulated is a terrific shoutout.
Especially, since I believe he stated that before in reference to fighting Wolf, Ram & Hart and they're involved again in trying to carry out a prophecy to their own benefit over everyone else.
Page 19: Willow speaks for everyone in offering to fight with Angel on his plan to change history. She also tells Mel that they need her to come back to help against Harth, as she knows him better than anyone but warns that they're faced with the same problem as before: If they stop Harth, the world she knows may not exist when she returns to it.
Melaka takes this in, but tells Wills that the world is a toilet, and it won't be improved if Harth returns with enough power to really reshape it. She's willing to take the huge risk, but not without Erin, Gates and Gunther being allowed to go too, in case the future does end.
At this, Harmony has finally had enough of their company, complaining that she forgot about how much they all whined. She tells them she has to get back to making herself beautiful, but do ask that if they don't manage to defeat Harth, if one of them could just suggest that he call her when he gets back, it'd be super sweet.
Page 20: Melaka next goes to Gunther to explain when she's going and why, but he declines to accompany her citing his being too old to start over. She and he share an emotional perhaps final-farewell.
Page 21: Back at Gates' library, Giles has finally found a third of fourth hand account of The Reckoning that will help them formulate some sort of plan, beyond running into a battle that fate says they have to lose.
Everyone girds up to go back, especially Mel and Erin who are looking at everything they know perhaps ending because of their help.
Faith tells everyone, "Word. We all got the haps, let's do the do", to which Mel smiles that finally someone speaks proper 'Merican.
Commentary: Suddenly, I wish we'd gotten another two issues, so we could've had more Faith/Melaka interaction. This was a cute moment.
Page 22: In the present, Harth tells Wilkins-demon that their enemies should be returning any moment and they need to strike them fast, before they have time to prepare an offensive. The Mayor is in wonder at Harth remembering traveling to the future and preparing to fight himself, and Harth reminds him that he has all of the Slayer memories, including his sister's and Buffy's. It's all a matter of focusing on which memories he needs -- something that he is in wonder that anyone with a soul could handle without going insane.
[Which actually would explain why human Harth decided to become a vampire in the first place. He could've definitely been driven insane from the Slayer memories, but hid it well.]
At Wolfram & Hart's offices, the hoard of demons sets out to meet the returning heroes at Willow's Woman's Center where The Reckoning is to take/has taken place....
The Good: I'm even happier than with issue 1 that we're on course to handle the dangling plot thread of Buffy's last battle, and the eventual creation of Fray's timeline.
Melaka Fray and Buffy trading blows in between falling on flying cars was all good stuff. The dialog was snappy and the action was fun.
The callbacks to Angel's and Buffy's earlier histories and episodes with individual lines, or images were little gems.
I really liked Angel's semi-meltdown about prophecies, that basically plays on his entire character history from the time that Whistler first found half-starved Angel living on rats and recruited him to help Buffy - who was going to have it rough.
The Bad: Nothing is bad in this issue, even some of the more data-dumpy things.
Other Thoughts: The issue wasn't perfection. There were a few lines that were awkward, and Harmony's "rumors" basically giving them the whole history on The Reckoning and every major characters fates was a bit too convenient. Plus, her scenes really were a data-dump. And her retroactive insertion now in having kept up with Willow for awhile before she went "weird" is clumsily scripted at best.
The Score: 4.25 out of 5 stars
If they can keep the momentum, this series will close on a very high, very enjoyable [assuming Buffy doesn't for-real die.. wait, now I'm worried] note!