Or – “This One Time?  At Band Camp?  I Totally Set My Hands On FIRE!


Hey, whenever you can make an Allyson Hannigan…  Allisyn Hannigon?  Alisin Haniggin?  Alison Hanigon?  Forget it, I’ll just call her Willow…  Any time you can make a ‘Willow-doing-naughty-things’ joke, you have to make it. It’s in the Comic Geek Code, right after ‘Thou shalt not avoid a chance to argue Superman Vs. The Hulk’ and before ‘Lo, it is written that Greedo did shoot first, and thus shall it be spake.’  In either case, with this issue we officially see the return of the troika of characters that drove the earliest episodes of Buffy the television series, and coincidentally, the return of Buffy’s best friend and confidante.  With all the internalizing going on in the first three issues, do you suppose we’re finally ready for people to start TALKING?  Cue the music!  Boodly boodly boodly oow!  Doo DOO doo DOOOOOO… 

Bong!  Previously on Buffy:  Buffy Summers died a lot, but then magically shared Buffy1.jpgher powers with thousands of other women, effectively making the “Chosen One” a chosen horde.  These women have been formed into a sort of Slayer Corps, under the watchful eyes of Buffy and friends (including Xander Harris, who prefers to be called ‘Sergeant Fury’.)  On what seemed like a routine raid, Buffy and company found a mysterious group of dead men, each wearing a strange rune on their chest, having seemingly locked themselves in willingly with a horde of demons.  Meanwhile, in the ruins of what used to be Sunnydale, California (Buffy’s former stomping grounds and home to the mysterious Hellmouth) the government has (unbelievably) found two survivors.  The first, Amy Madison, has been conscripted to attack Buffy and friends at their castle home, putting Buffy into a magical coma and sending in a swarm of zombies (how trendy!)  Just when all seemed lost, founding Scooby (and insanely powerful sorceress) Willow Rosenberg arrived just in the nick, and the stage is set for a thaumaturgical smackdown…

We start this issue with the answer to the question plaguing Buffy fans for years: the identity of her dream man.  Last issue, in her coma, Buffy hallucinated the image of a man who reached for her hand, and called her ‘my love.’  I pointed out that the body shown wasn’t built like Angel, and didn’t dress like Spike, and also, Riley sucks.  So, who is the mysterious man on Buffy’s mind?  Well, the trick here is, he’s not so much ON her mind, as he is IN her mind.  “He called me ‘My Love,” thinks Buffy…


“Barflex” is possibly my new favorite Buffyism, and a word I’m totally stealing.  Buffy is unclear as to the concept of “dreamspace” but Ethan explains: “You are always dreaming every dream you ever could, all the time.  Even when you’re awake, a part of your brain is stirring in that brew.  Which one you CHOOSE to remember in the morning is based on wishes, anxieties–in your case, your collective slayer memory and prophecies are mixed in as well.”  Basically, the dreamspace is what happens when your brain is projected in 3-D all around you, with little or no filtering or differentiation between nightmare, fantasy, memory, or fiction.  Case in point?


 Hey, the “Bondage/Nurse Fetish/Threesome” memory, the pervy hat trick!  Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve had that dream, right guys?  Guys?  Um… anybody?  Hello?  Would it help if I explained that Ming-Na and Scarlett Johanssen replace Spike & Angel in my version?  No?  Still creepy as hell?  Okay, moving on quickly, then.  ‘What’s going on outside’ is an all-out war, with zombies on the left, zombies on the right, zombies inside the gates, everywhere I look, zombies, zombies, zombies, quoth the Blurr. As for the zombie mistress, she’s floating over the whole scene, trading ILM blasts with Willow, and basically sucking as only Amy can.  “Oh, man… this craft is WEAK!” Amy crows.  “Didn’t you almost destroy the world, once?”  As Wilson Fisk was recently heard to say in another Joss Whedon production, “posturing OFFENDS me.”  Willow, however, is serene in her awesomeness, and calmly absorbs Ms. Madison’s every angry power-blast.


That last panel really needs a Mr. Monster style ‘KRAK-A- BOOOOM,if you ask me.  In any case, Willow takes over control of the hordes of the undead, and in a very Willow moment, one zombie who was previously poised to kill, holds his hand out to a fallen slayer and rumbles “May I have this dance?”  Heh.   “The army was the pressing issue.  The light’s show’s just a distraction,” says Willow.  Unfortunately, Amy is also hiding something, zarking Willow with a spell that pixelates her strangely (maybe it’s a Digital Cable spell?) and knocks her back a step.  Meanwhile, in the depths of Buffy’s cabeza, Ethan explains that he’s only here because when Amy locked Buffy in, she left a tiny piece of herself behind, and he’s looking for a specific memory.  As Willow gets angry (and you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry, Mr. McGee) and fights back, she does the customary ‘veiny bulging out face and pitch-black eyes’ thing that heralded bad things in seasons past.  Amy plays it off as though she’s unimpressed, but Xander (as always) has his girl’s back.  “Say it with me.  Fee fie fo…”


“It’ll fade.”  Heh.  I have to say, having hated the whole ‘Willow can’t handle magic’ subplot with a passion, I like that she’s able to deal with her dark side, and finally accept that simply having the urge to, I don’t know, horribly maim the man who killed your beloved is perfectly natural.  You have to deal with your rage, rather than suppress your true self.  (I really should be a life coach, huh?)  In any case, Dawn and Willow take Amy (not as splattered as I had hoped she’d be) into custody, while Buffy and Ethan traipse through the backroads of Amy’s brain.  


 I’m starting to wonder if that’s really Ethan, or if it’s part of Buffy’s mind, especially as he warns her to remember what she sees here, saying cryptically “I’m more antique roman than a dane,” and calling her ‘pet,’ which, while a common, you should excuse the expression, pet name from a British character (at least in American media) was always Spike’s endearment for Buffy.  Outside her skull, Willow, Xander, and a mass of slayers are trying to figure out how to wake Buffy from her slumber.  Willow recognizes that it’s a ‘True Love’ spell, and immediately cuts to the chase.  “Buffy needs to be kissed by someone who’s in love with her.  And someone in this room IS…”  


Now, doesn’t it look to you like only Xander and Willow are within lip-smackin’ distance in that shot?  I know that we’re supposed to think that it was Xander who did the deed, but I wonder (especially given the strength of her warning to keep the eyes shut) if it wasn’t Will herself who did it?  Either way, it’s interesting…   As an aside, I always thought that the first line of the Steve Perry song “Oh, Sherry” said ‘Cinnamon Buns’ growing up.  Giles takes a moment to check with a demonic contact to see if they know anything about the strange conflicts that the band of Slayers have encountered, but to no avail.  Xander contacts Andrew’s slayers in Italy, but Andrew likewise (and characteristically) has no information…  


‘Games to stay awake.’  Uh…  yeah.  In either case, you have to wonder if Andrew’s aware of the luck involved in his situation.  Very few former geeks get that lucky, and I say that with no hint of irony as a former geek.  Remember Renee, the girl with such a crush on the X-man (Xander, not Wolverine) that she’s actually learning what his comic book references mean?  She was not killed last issue, after all, but was pretty badly injured, and Xander takes a few moments to check in on her…  


Xander always looks after his friends, nearly all of whom happen to be women.  I can totally relate.  But enough about me, what about evil Amy and her stupidness?  Willow and Buffy have her chained in one of the dungeons (the advantage of setting up shop in a Scottish castle), and Willow is analyzing her teleportation signature, trying to track back from whence she came.  Buffy isn’t sure why, but Willow is certain that someone is helping Amy, from the nature of her spellcasting.  Buffy tries to ask where Willow has been, but she brushes away the question with a careful, “Yeah, it’s been a funky time.  We’ll get into it.”  


HA!  I love Willow…  and the question of what happened with Dawn is (seemingly) answered.  Xander arrives just in time to see the women laughing and enjoying each other’s company, and demands to be let in on the fun, but is told that it’s a girl thing.  “A girl thing?  With girl parts?  Now I really need to know!”  Heh.  Willow teases him about having a slow year, which trips Buffy’s memory of her dream, but Xander’s already off.  “Oh, I’m getting PLENTY of action, Elphaba.  I’m Action Jackson!”  Willow plays along, teasing that he was the biggest ladies man at Sunnydale High, macking on Faith, and Praying-Mantis Woman, and Cordelia, and Anya, even Willow herself, “and I don’t truck with the stubbly crowd.”  Heh, again.  It’s good to see the characters grown up, but still themselves, especially as Xander admits that the action he’s been getting, according to his parents will make you go blind.  Just as Buffy remembers to ask who kissed her, Willow manages to see where Amy has been… but it’s a trap!  Amy and Willow are sucked through the portal.  Buffy leaps and misses, and Xander immediately scrambles his team of mystics, but Willow is gone.  We see her strapped to a table, and Amy introduces her mystery boyfriend…  


Warren Mears.  Amy’s mystery date (or is that Mystery Meat?) killed her beloved Tara and was himself believed murdered.  It’s good to see that Willow ISN’T a murderer after all, even if it was Dark Willow who did the deed.  Of course, that there bonesaw seems to indicate that he may hold a bit of a grudge, hmm?  There’s a definite confrontation a-comin, folks, and I really want to see both these characters get smacked around like Barry Allen’s Whac-A-Mole.

This issue was mighty satisfying, with at least three plot twists, a couple of mysteries (who DID kiss her?), some lovely Joss dialogue, a bit of humor, and pretty, pretty art.  George Jeanty does the usual beautiful work here, capturing Willow pretty well and making the the strip poker game at once sexy, funny, and innocent, a hard balance to pull off (no pun intended.)  Joss has really done with this issue what he promised:  continued the story of the characters we know from the show, and unlike most comic adaptations, there’s none of the “don’t get too attached, ’cause the stories aren’t really canon and didn’t ‘happen’ the way the show did.”  It’s a silly point to make, but one that has kept me away from comic versions of shows that I love.  Plus, it’s a much better continuation than “Queen of The Slayers.”  Urgh.  This is even better than the past two issues, and rates 4.5 out of 5 stars.  This comic book is really impressive, and manages to juggle a lot of plots effectively, without overwhelming us with blah blah blah.  Very nice work.



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I hope they don’t turn Buffy into a lesbian. That would just come off as lazy shock writing to me.

    I’m glad Warren is back though, he always seemed like the most menacing villain of the series even if he was just a human.

  2. Matthew Peterson on

    I hope they don’t turn Buffy into a lesbian. That would just come off as lazy shock writing to me.

    I don’t think that’s where we’re going here. I’m a bit conflicted by Xander here, actually. One the one hand, there’s the careful flirtation with Renee, and her crush, but on the other there’s the realization that Xander really is the perfect man for Buffy, if she’d only get her head out of her aerobicized @$$ long enough to realize it.

    Many people have said (and there’s credence to this theory) that Joss intended Xander and Buffy to be together, and there’s ample evidence to that effect. But, will he follow THROUGH?

  3. It just won’t be like the original until they bring back that hot hot hot charisma carpenter…(drool face)

  4. This sounds like a great issue, though they are only one surprise returning character away from overkill. Unless they find a way to revive Tara. I think Joss had a plan to do so in the last season, but couldn’t get the actress back.

    I like the idea of Buffy and Xander together as well. I read Willow’s insistence of the kiss being secret as her way of helping Xander, who she must suspect still loves Buffy. I never got the impression that Willow loved Buffy in any romantic sense.

  5. Matthew Peterson on

    I think that the “surprise returning character” question is a valid one, though they HAVE been foreshadowing since issue #1 that SOMETHING was found with Amy in the caverns beneath Sunnydale, and, as I mentioned, it nicely takes some of the curse off Willow’s actions in Season 6’s finale.

    I am certain that Xander loves Buffy, but I’m still wondering about some sort of swerve there. Joss is usually very sneaky about this particular topic, moreso as the show went on. The Xander/Buffy relationship is one of those that you could make a strong case for both staying platonic and going for broke, and unusually, both arguments are (in my mind) equally strong.

  6. The second issues was a bit dissapointing and decided that i was going to follow through on the season but now witht the introduction of Warren, im psyched seriously. On who kissed buffy im going to say Xander, it is rather obvious but then again Whendon always has ways to suprose me lol. If i remember correctly about 5 months before the season came out it was mentioned that whendon possibly was going to involve Anya in the season. I miss her and im dying to find out if this will come through

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