Buffy Season 8 Review, Issue #1
The Long Way Home, Part I
Script: Joss Whedon, Pencils: Georges Jeanty, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Dave Stewart, Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy (uh, yea, Jimmy?)
Cover By: Jo Chen, Designed By: Heidi Fuinzu
Inside Cover Blurb: “This story takes place after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven.
Page 1: We open Season 8 of Buffy with a view of the planet Earth, sun rising over the horizon as seen from an orbital perspective. Our narrator for the opening passage is Buffy, herself:
The thing about changing the world… Once you do it, the world’s all different.
Pages 2 & 3: Everybody calls me “ma’am” these days.
Page 4: As the group of Slayers descends toward a boarded up building, Buffy fires a ‘gun’ at the roof. This fires some sort of magical blasts, which open a rift in a mystical field surrounding the place. The girls land on the rooftop. But with Buffy’s continued narration, we’re reminded that “There used to be one Slayer in all the world.”
Now, there are at least (by the last count) 1800. Of these, Buffy and her allies have managed to recruit five hundred of them which is spread around the world. She has ten separate squads around the world. We’re also told there are “even three of me”.
Page 5: As the group begins to recon the roof, storming toward an entrance, Buffy’s narration continues. We discover that everyone figured that Buffy might be an especial target. To thwart any attempts to find where she is exactly, they have two blondes playing “Buffy Summers”. One of these is “underground. Literally.”
The ‘third Buffy’ is currently living it up in Rome (in a very clever nod to AtS: The Girl in Question) which basically sucked because they had a stand in for SMG, and ergo, managed to never show her face. Now, retroactively, we find out why! She also specifically mentions that the faux-Buffy is supposedly dating someone called “The Immortal”, again a shout out and way to make fun of the Angel episode.
We further, amusingly, find out that this Rome-Buffy was all Andrew’s idea. He thought it would be really funny after researching him… and obviously finding out his past run-ins with both Angel and Spike. Buffy hasn’t a clue as to why Andy thought it was so amusing.
Page 6: We’re now introduced to the comic book version of Xander Harris. He’s at ‘Central Command’, playing the part of coordinator to Buffy’s efforts. You might have expected Giles to take that role… at least I certainly did, hmmm?
Anyway, the place is full of Slayers. They also have a team of psychics. As Xan is giving information via radio feed to Buffy, one of the other Slayers mentions a situation in
Page 7: We find out that the
As Xander is dealing with the
(Xander, re: Andrew’s orders to take a squad of Slayers to
(Slayer Renee): Yes, Mr. Harris.
(Xander): “Xander.” Renee, I told you, it’s “Xander” or “Sergeant Fury”.
(Slayer Renee): Wasn’t Nick Fury a Colonel when he ran S.H.I.E.L.D.?
(Xander): I like him better in the Howling Commando days. But, your nerd points are accumulating impressively.
Anybody else thinks that sounds a bit flirtatious? Which, naturally, makes me think Renee is dead meat walking but we’ll see.
Page 8: Back with Buffy’s squad, she’s busted into the abandoned building (turns out it’s a church) in order to engage a gaggle of demons. They’re big, they’re brutish, and they’re perfect for a comic book. Alas, they’ve also already managed to take out a few victims, which Buffy isn’t at all happy about.
Page 9: The Slayers go on the attack and we follow Buffy as she puts in a few good moves, before getting knocked into the disused, large cross. It appears two of our other Slayers may be in trouble… one with a cat-mask on her head and another with long, flowing red hair. No names for these Slayers, yet.
Page 10: The two Slayers in trouble (cat-mask is Satsu, red-head is Leah [I think]) is saved by another of the paratrooper Slayers. There are also two late comers to the party who must have jumped after our ‘splash-page’. Anyway, no Slayers get killed in the making of this page. But, Buffy sure puts that large cross to good use!
Buffy kicks. And our mystery starts.
Page 11: With the demons killed, the Slayers begin to make some discoveries that are a bit unsettling. One, the bodies have an image carved into them. Two, the skin carving isn’t fresh… in fact, it may have been self-inflicted. And three: the ‘random victims’ were heavily armed with automatic rifles… not really ‘civilian-victim’ issue. It looks like somebody came looking for a fight and they lost. Buffy orders Xander to get a good image of the symbol (the Slayers aren’t just wearing mics, but cameras as well) and to “copy Giles on it”. Interesting… why isn’t Giles with Buffy?
Symbols carved on chests: never a positive sign.
Page 12: The baseball capped Slayer also surmises that the forcefield they had to break through was also with the victim-guys. They wanted to be alone with the demons. Buffy doesn’t like the math on this caper, but hopes the symbol they found will clear up the matter. In the meantime, a pair of boots is high above the wrecked, abandoned church. Someone is keeping an eye on our girls.
Page 13: We jump to another ‘copter. This one is Army. Within, berating some suit is a four star general, who is obviously extremely hostile to our Slayers. In fact, according to him, Buffy and her girls “got a hard-line ideology that does not jibe with American interests”. He further describes Buffy as “charismatic, uncompromising, and completely destructive”. It’s more than obvious that he considers Buffy’s ‘squads’ as just another word for ‘cells’… as in, terrorist cells.
Page 14 & 15: Still with General Hard-ass. He offers the suit further proof of his assertions that the Slayers are, in point of fact, terrorists: “… Look what she did to her hometown.”
The helicopter is flying over the Sunnydale crater. What’s more, there is a government presence on the ground as well. Things get a bit interesting here… there are some scientist bio-hazard suit sorts wandering under the crater (60 feet under) and they report “no mystical readings”.
It appears they’ve come a long way in the four years since the Initiative chose to treat the demons as nothing more than exotic animals. Now, we have the resources to pick up mystical energy on hand held scanners. And, they’re looking for something specific….
Page 16: Just like in a horror-movie, right after the guy reports that he’s all alone down there, he’s screaming. We see a man’s face distorted in his visor, but we can’t make out who it is. And, why in the hell there’s anyone down there at all.
Page 17: Back at Slayer central, Xander and Buffy are discussing the symbol. Xan thinks maybe it’s a monocle-wearing guy who is frowning. Far more interesting than the symbol discussion though, is when Buffy jokingly tells Xan that he’s a terrible Watcher. His response seems awfully forceful to me as he responds, “I’m not a Watcher… Don’t call me a Watcher”. When you add the fact that Giles has been nowhere to be seen throughout this entire issue (nor has
Now, as to
Xander also tells Buffy that she needs to talk to Dawn. Buffy complains that she’s only going to whine. So, one, Buffy and Dawn aren’t on the best of terms either… again! And two, we have a shout back to the fans’ complaints that all Dawn did during S6 was bitch and moan. Xander reminds Buffy that she has a lot to whine about these days….
Page 18 & 19: Buffy relents under Xan’s pressure and goes to speak with Dawnie. And, we find out that Dawn is a friggin’ giant!
Buffy tries to find out what exactly happened to cause ‘Kenny the Thrisewise” to make Dawnie a giantess, but she won’t speak to anyone but
Dawn has grown up... and up... and up....
Page 20: The convo between Buff and Dawn goes about as well as it always seems to. Buffy finally decides to walk away… again.
(Dawn, glaring after Buffy): I could swat you like a flea.
(Buffy): Your butt looks big in those giant pants.
Page 21: Buffy goes out on a parapet for some air. And we get into her head a bit about what has happened in the last year: I miss my mom. I miss the gang. And churros. And sex. Great muppety Odin, I miss that sex. Ooh! I just know Dawn had sex with that Kenny and won’t say anything to me -- But, she’ll tell Willow, fine, her first time and it all goes wrong which I’m totally well versed in and anyhow Willow’s the expert on boys since when now?
Outstanding. I can’t even feel sorry for myself in a linear fashion. Suck it up, Summers. You’re a big girl now.
This scene actually seems like a good place to leave the issue, but we’ve got a surprise awaiting us…
Page 22: We rejoin General Ass-hat in a large laboratory type facility (Initiative-like?). He looks into a room through one of those sliding panels and reacts with revulsion and shock:
How is that thing alive?
We don’t know what ‘thing’ he is speaking of at this time, but it appears that it’s whoever they took into custody under Sunnydale. Remember the distorted male’s face in the visor?
A scientist responds that it’s obvious that magic is keeping ‘him’ alive. And, it is their belief that ‘Subject One’ was who was keeping ‘him’ alive. Meaning, there were two ‘subjects’ under Sunnydale… staying alive by, probably, eating whoever got buried with them and didn’t survive.
Page 23: The scientist reports that ‘Subject One’ is more vocal than ‘it/him’ in the other room. Further, he explains that “her” first words were, “I’m gonna help you kill her.”
There are several tidbits, here. Subject One considers Subject Two her ‘boyfriend’, even though the General wasn’t sure how Subject Two could possibly be alive, suggesting that the second subject is in a world of ugly.
Subject One is also interested in their magical hardware and having a lab for said ‘world of ugly boyfriend’. ‘She’ also wants release from and immunity for any crimes her and said ‘boyfriend’ have committed, if she succeeds in taking Buffy Summers down. And, here’s the real kicker… she wants “a lot of cheese”. Any guesses who Subject One is?
The Good: First and foremost, I have to give a hand to the artists. Both the fabulous cover, and the excellent artwork within the issue. Outstanding work.
I also loved how we get caught up on Xander, Buffy, Dawn and Andrew. We don’t get any hints on Faith, the S.i.Ts., or Robin, but we do get some mysteries surrounding
The church-demons… they were great looking! And, I loved Buffy’s takedown of them. I also liked the mystery re: the symbol and the fact that Buffy quickly realized that the ‘victims’ weren’t just a random tragedy. The floating figure was mysterious and is obviously tied to this plotline.
The view of Sunnydale (now just a crater). Though, of course, it is located so far from the ocean (see S2, S3 and S5) that it isn’t even on the page. I swear the entire town teleported around for 7 years.
The dialog throughout was great, especially among Buffy, Xander and even Dawn.
The Bad: More Amy Madison… really? Her character didn’t make a whole lot of sense in S7 and they continue the psycho-witch routine here.
Again… no ocean near Sunnydale… bad continuity (but consistent with the bad continuity in the series ender of BTVS).
Psycho military… cliché anyone?
Concerning: I don’t have strong feelings, either good nor bad, but I do have to wonder how anyone could have survived an entire city imploding and sinking into the ground. Amy Madison just shouldn’t have that type of power, unless she’s suddenly gotten far, far more powerful since she was returned from rat-hood.
I’m concerned about how
Rating: A strong first issue for Buffy: Season 8 comic series and strong for a “Season Premiere”. I like the mysteries set up, similar to setting up a season’s big bad if it’s seen through (i.e., not wrapped up right after “The Long Way Home” wraps). The ‘bad’ is utterly minor and two of them are just a personal preference (evil military may not bother anyone else, and some may really dig Amy’s character as evil witch). I say, “4.25 out of 5 stars”.