Or – “Mortal Danger Brings Out The Best In Some People…”


Here’s something that strangely entertained me about this issue of Buffy, aside from the story (which is quite good.)  This book is called “Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 8.”  The words Season 8 are printed (though perhaps a bit small) on every cover so far.  Yet, on the inside of the front cover, there is a disclaimer that reads “This story takes place after the end of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 7.”

I wonder who that warning is for, exactly?

Buffy1.jpgPreviously, in Buffy The Vampire Slayer:  The American Government excavated the crater left behind after the collapse of Sunnydale in the last issue of Buffy, only to find a couple of surprises.  One of them was Amy Madison, creepy evil witch, in every sense of the word, who found the need to avenge and long-standing and most imagined grudge against Buffy by putting her in a mystical trance.  Buffy’s best friend and mystical expert, Willow, arrived only to find that the entire exercise was nothing but a bluff to call her out, and Amy’s partner-in-crime stood revealed:  Warren Mears, the man who killed her beloved Tara.  The terrible twosome manages to teleport away with Willow, leaving Buffy, Xander and her Slayerettes behind to puzzle it all out.  Warren reminds Willow of the last words she said to him…  “Bored now.”  He is characteristically bitter about it, asking, “Do you even remember that’s what you said?  Last two words of my human life, so I remember probably better.  You were upset…”


“…are you bored NOW?”  Sadistic little schmuck, isn’t he?  As he lowers a blade towards her eye (and the ghost of Fredric Wertham leaps up and screams “EY!  What’d I SAY about that $#!+, huh?”) we see Dawn and Buffy Summers trying to cope with the loss of their friend.   Dawn punches out a brick wall at her new giant size, but succeeds only in tearing up her knuckles.  Having once punched a road sign, I can relate.  Dawn emotes as only a teenage girl can, upset that she can’t help find Willow, and begging Buffy to do her best.  “I’m not trying to slam you, I swear, but…  Will is like a mom to me.”  With that possibly mortal wound issued, Buffy checks in with Xander about the status of his project:  reverse engineering the mystic portal to open the other way.


While Buffy starts figuring out who’s going to back her play, Warren has finally gone beyond the pale, seemingly doing exactly what you’d think he’d do with a blade and a woman whose eye is forced open by steel hooks.  Warren was a repugnant little troll in life, and his mystical afterlife has only made that particular vintage taste more sour.  In quick succession, we see Buffy choosing Satsu, (she of the great hair from last issue) we see what seem to be elemental creatures allowing Willow mystical entrance to their realm, and the general in command of the secret base where Warren and Amy are ensconced asking her sternly about the horrible screaming that they keep hearing. 


Atomo-phallic thing, you say?  That can’t be good.  Satsu returns to the slayer barracks for her sword, telling the assembled girls that it should have been one of them who accompanied Buffy, not her.  “I think Buffy jus’ wants ta die looking at yer great hairdo, but it’s her that’s boss,” replies the slayer that I think is Rowena.  “Don’t embarrass us.”  In a very cute touch, Buffy has, indeed, done her hair exactly like Satsu’s, and another little piece of something occurs to me during this next sequence…


Anyone else remember Buffy’s words last issue, when SOMEONE who loved her kissed her out of a magical coma?  For those in the cheap seats, that line was “cinnamon buns.”  Perhaps Satsu has a secret we don’t know about, eh?  As the two slayers prepare for takeoff, Willow talks with the spirits of, apparently, Earth, Air, Water, Animals, and Picasso.  “We cannot undo what is happening, but your heart may bide here with us until you are free.”  Willow wonders if that means escaped or deceased, but the spirits can’t answer that question, and wouldn’t if they could, apparently…


Back at Slayer Central, Xander orders Buffy and Satsu into position, indicating that the witches will have a portal in mere seconds.  “Yes, sir, Mister Watcher, sir!” replies Buffy.  “I’ll Watcher your BUTT, lady.”  Buffy replies, “Your grammar is, not so much.”  Heh.  English jokes always get me.  Xander just tersely orders them to bring him back a witch, as the mages start to open the portal.  But you remember Amy’s talk of the phallo-blasterizer and it’s zappy goodness?  Luckily, Mr. Harris has prepared, keeping his feathers numbered for just such an emergency…


The beam ricochets back through the portal, blowing up the cannon, and causing a huge explosion.  The soldiers are knocked about like tenpins, and smoke fills the installation.  Xander, for his part, gives a little smile as the Slayers leap through the portal…  “Magic, ” he says…


The sojers (who seem to not be military so much as some sort of strange militia) open fire, but the two women are far too fast for them.  Leaping into action, Buffy and Satsu carve a swath right through the men, going for non-lethal wounds, but still taking out the entire room full of gunmen in mere moments.  Confronting the general, Buffy presents her terms.  “So.  We tried to be nice here, but some of these men are dying.  There’s one person in the complex powerful enough to heal them.  You can tell me where she is… or…”  The implied threat does it’s job, but Xander warns her over the earpiece that Amy will certainly be waiting.  Buffy asks where they, are and Xander confirms that they’re about two miles from Sunnydale.  In the netherrealm, the spirit of water tells Willow that if she intends to do anything, now is the critical time…


Willow/Buffy confronts Amy with the thing she fears most:  her dear old mother.  Amy hesitates for a split second, giving Satsu the time to throw what she found:  a grenade!  Holy heck, these women play for real, huh?  Buffy smashes through the door to see Warren, but doesn’t know who the heck he is, having not been present for most of the exposition.  Amy teleports them both away (after a grenade blew up in her face, the lady is tough) and Buffy checks on Willow to find… she’s fine.  She’s already healed her physical form, and they leave.  But before they do, Buffy sees a door marked “30.”  Remembering the strange symbols in her dream of Ethan Rayne, she realizes that XXX is Roman numerals for “30” and busts down this door as well.  “You got yourself a get out of jail free card, Rayne…  But I hear the words “my” or “love…”  Her words are cut short as she sees Ethan…


Finally face to face with one of the men behind what is a apparently a great freakish conspiracy, Buffy realizes the truth:  her greatest enemy isn’t going to be vampires or demons, but her fellow humans.  The general explains that the mark represents “Twilight.  Is coming.  For you, for all your monstrous spawn…  It all ends VERY soon.”  Buffy points out that they are protecting the world from evil, but the general believes that her very POWER comes from demons as well.  This all sounds a bit fundamentalist, doesn’t it?  He accuses her of creating a master race, an army of superhumans under her control.


Buffy thinks for long seconds about his assertion, then steels herself, and responds.  “‘Kay.”  Heh.  I love her dialogue.  And if General Rimfire here thinks that she’s going to be in any way cowed by tough talk from a guy in a suit, he’s not familiar with her life.  Heck, this girl faced worse than him in gym class!  Either way, the stage is set for this “seasons” big bad, and I’m very curious as to where they’re going.  It’s a fascinating premise, and it does deal with the ramifications of so many Slayers appearing at the same time, but I hope it doesn’t get all ‘Civil War’ gritty as we go.

This issue maintains the excellent art, with Georges Jeanty maintaining the likeness of the characters while telling a good comic book story.  It’s always difficult when you read a licensed book like this, to balance photo-realistic with dynamic, but he’s succeeded admirably.  Joss Whedon, while not a perfect writer, at least always gives me something awesome to think on and play with, and this issue is no exception.  With the implied horrors of Willow’s torture, he got me freaked out and angry at Warren, without ever really showing any blood to speak of, a very nice trick.  This is a very good outing, earning 4 out of 5 stars, and setting up the rest of the series for us.  It’s nice that they have balanced the wants of Buffy fans and the wants of comic fans, giving each something unique to their fandom, but balancing the book so that both groups can be happy.



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.

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