Or – “In Which Several Relationships Come To Unpleasant Ends…”

In her relatively short life, Buffy Summers has dated a lot of inappropriate people.  Parker, the jackass frat boy.  Riley, the useless super-soldier with no personality what-so-fricking-ever.  Angel, a former mass murdering vampire.  Spike, a…  completely different former mass-murdering vampire.  (Y’know, for a while there, it seemed she thought her hereditary title was “Vampire LAYER,” nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean? Eh?  Eh?)  So, I don’t understand why anyone is troubled by Buffy’s latest choice of paramour…  After all, it’s not as though she’s known for being romantically level-headed.  In this issue, choices are made, lives are changed, and the issue of whether or not her sapphic tryst was just a one-night-stand is finally put to rest.

Previously, on Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 8:   Buffy Summers has been through a lot recently, with her cadre of slayers coming under constant attack by enemies old (Warren the murderous wretch and Amy the treacherous witch) and new (a conspiracy called Twilight, led by a super-powered bastard by the same name) as well as learning a few things along the way.  Willow has revealed that she’s protecting HER girlfriend, while Xander has been tenuously trying to court HIS girlfriend, but both are flummoxed to the core when Buffy ends up bedding HER girlfriend.  Of course, Buffy having sex is the equivalent of Vincent Vega going to the bathroom: something horrific is about to happen.  In this case, Buffy’s castle keep is invaded by Japanese vampires with powers seen only in the legendary Dracula, who then manage to steal her scythe (which isn’t a scythe) intending to use it to power a reversal spell that will take out ALL the slayers at once.  Buff and company (accompanied by the aforementioned Dracula) have come hard and serious, only to get stabbed in the back…

…literally.  Xander’s new ladyfriend Renee is impaled upon Buffy’s own mystical weapon, and falls to the ground.  We see her perspective for a moment as she realizes that she’s dying, and focuses in on the only thing that matters: Xander Harris.  “I can’t hear what he’s saying…  Why can’t I… Oh, god…  I’m not ready…  I hope he knows…  I never got to tell him…  Xander.  I’m not ready…”  Renee collapses, and the Slayers leap into action against the vampires of Tokyo.  Buffy is frozen for a moment, until Dracula roars that she needs to get Willow.  Buffy screams back that she can’t leave Xander alone, and in a weirdly touching moment, the Lord of Vampires bares his teeth, and growls, “He’s NOT alone.” Leaping into action, Drac becomes a whirlwind of murderous rage, all teeth and claws, killing their enemies a handful at a time.  Buffy head out to find Willow…

…who is entwined in a fight of her own, with Kumiko, the sorceress of the vampire clan.  She smashes Willow into a wall, boasting of her prowess, but is surprised when Willow grabs her back, and mystically reads her mind.  What Willow sees is a serpentine goddess, who promises to find her, and causes the witch to lose consciousness.  They careen through the skies of Tokyo, as a terrified Buffy closes her eyes and jumps down at them.  She manages to spike Kumiko from behind, but ends up falling with Willow towards the ever-growing concrete jungle below.  The slayers below find themselves on the losing end of the first salvo, and start to panic before a giant Converse smashes into the pavement.  “We don’t run!” commands Dawn Summers, and rallies them into an attack…

…before taking a steel fistinnaface!  “Oh my god!  They built a Mecha-Dawn!”  Heh.  The vampire’s leader watches from his rooftop perch, remarking, “There’s something you don’t see every day.”  The vamps begin their ritual, preparing to reverse the slayers’ powers forever, before they realize that they can hear screaming.  As if on cue, Dracula burst through the door, grabbing the head vampire and knocking the weapon away from him.  Satsu retrieves the scythe, while Willow and Buffy crash into the sidewalk… which transforms into water.  They watch Satsu falling towards them, calmly discussing Buffy’s recent foray into bisexuality.  “I never wanted to sleep with you, either,” says Willow, explaining that Buffy isn’t even on her list.  “What list?  There’s a list?” asks Buffy, and Willow tells her that she’s not even Willow’s type.  Buff tries to cover, saying that her list has people like Eleanor Roosevelt before trailing off into embarrassment.  “We should probably go catch Satsu now,” says Willow, and I crack up yet again.

They grab the girl, and fly back up to the rooftop, but the inconsiderate villains keep turning to mist.  Dracula AGAIN saves the day, offering up his own sword and telling Willow which spell to use to take away their shifter powers.  A burst of white hot light envelops the city, and the vampires are just standard issue bloodsuckers again.  Meanwhile, Dawn fights her steel doppelganger, and is frustrated to find herself outmatched for once.  “My name is Dawn.  I am a teenage girl,” monotones the creature, and Dawn screams back, “Then why do you have a tail?”  “I like blue jeans.  And irony.”  HA!  Suddenly, Dawn hears a voice on her communicator.  “Most mecha creatures are susceptible to forced detachment of the control center…  You should be able to defeat it through simple decapitation,” cries Andrew from atop another building.  When asked how he knows, Andrew replies, “Hi.  Have you MET me?”  Hee.  Dawn grabs for the creature’s head as the monster continues to monologue.  “I cry a lot.  I often let boys take advantage of my weak emotional states.”  Dawn rips the creatures head off, screaming “I do not!”  Best Godzilla reference ever.

One of the vampires grabs Buffy, preparing to bit her, remarking that she must taste sweet.  “You have no idea,” says Satsu as she stakes him into dust.  “I can’t believe I just said that aloud.” This dialogue is wonderful.  The head vampire angrily confronts Dracula, stealing the Vampire Lord’s blade.  “Just like an old man.  Needs his cane to stand…  Doesn’t know what to do with himself now that he’s an ordinary vampire again.”  Drac lets the whippersnapper make his feeble attack, but spins out of the way at the last moment, grabbing his blade back.  Within the space of a second, he cuts off the vampires hands and severs both his legs at the knee!  As the readers utter a collective ‘Holy Crap!,’ Dracula snarls back, “I was NEVER an ordinary vampire…  I’ve killed more men than all god’s plagues COMBINED.  And that was BEFORE I started eating people for fun…  The vampire’s the least of your concerns.  It’s the old man you need to worry about.”  That, my friends…  is hardcore.

The head vampire whines that Dracula can’t leave him like this, crippled and useless.  “Finish me… You owe me that honor.”  But Drac knows it’s not HIS kill, stepping aside, and handing the blade to Xander.  “You know NOTHING about honor,” he intones, as Xan dusts the man who killed his girl.  Buffy and her girls sweep through the streets, killing all the vampires they can find, as the story cuts ahead to the next night.  Dracula (dressed like Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka) offers to help Xander with his goodbye ceremony, but Xan declines.  “Goodbye, manservant,” says Drac, and prepares to leave.  Xander replies, “Hey, Dracula…  If you call me manservant again, I’ll kill you in your sleep.”  Nice moment for both men.  Satsu and Buffy, for their part, agree that they have to part ways, with Satsu staying home in Tokyo to lead the field office there… but not before another evening of sapphic passion, of course.  Go, girl/girl!  Whoo!  The issue ends with Xander pouring Renee’s ashes out, and a cut to black…

This issue moves from the first second, but unlike many last chapters, it manages to satisfy during it’s non-stop action.  The murder of Renee is a huge shock, but not nearly as much as Dracula’s Bad Motha #*$@er moment later in the issue.  Willow and Buffy’s conversation about “experimenting” is beautiful and funny, and even Xander gets a tough-guy moment within.  George Jeanty once again rocks the art, giving us some way cool battle sequences and a mecha-Dawn who looks hysterically like Michelle Trachtenberg.  Drew Goddard nails the Buffy-isms, gives Xander steel without negating his humor, and ends the Buffy/Satsu love affair with style and even a bit of dignity.  The best part of this issue is the feeling that it’s both a pretty damn great comic and a well-done episode of Buffy at the same time.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars, with the only disappointment coming in the fact that the promising Renee/Xander relationship died when she did…  Still, and all, if that’s my worst complaint, you know it’s a good book.

45stars.jpg

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

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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11 Comments

  1. Lifeisaglitch
    June 10, 2008 at 1:27 pm — Reply

    Dude i just finished this 30 min ago..freaky

  2. Cory
    June 10, 2008 at 1:29 pm — Reply

    Wonderful issue. I hope Drew Goddard comes back to do another story line.

    They really fleshed out the Dracula character nicely; especially at the end when he tries to console Xander in his own inhuman way.

    It would be cool if Drusilla came back further on in the series. Then at the conclusion it would be nice to see how Drusilla and Dracula interact. All written by Joss Whedon of course.

  3. Cory
    June 10, 2008 at 1:31 pm — Reply

    I want to see more FAITH. Faith and Giles deserve another storyline before the season is over.

  4. Lifeisaglitch
    June 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm — Reply

    Wait what Godzilla reference?… Did i miss a reference, besides the obvious mecha VS real deal in Tokyo??? But but but i don’t miss references i never do…

    Dawn rips the creatures head off, screaming “I do not!” ???????? Is it hidden in this?

  5. June 10, 2008 at 2:51 pm — Reply

    This was an awesome issue.

    This week was filled with tremendously satisfying comics, including the Detective Comics and Robin / Spoiler issues you guys reviewed earlier.

  6. Tom Grice
    June 10, 2008 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    If I was a comic writer today I would be incredibly angry. I would curse and scream and throw things as though I were a card player in the back room of the Gatekeeper. Because that, my friends, is about as good as it gets and it brings into stark contrast the success of character driven plots and the sublime failure of “event as story.” Season 8 of Buffy has so thoroughly trounced every other “event” offered since it began that I can only imagine the agony. And how has it done it? With magnificent characters, great dialogue, wit and humor, and action that adds to the story rather than taking its place. The Dracula action moments (his attack in the beginning and his humbling of the HVIC [Head Vampire in Charge]), for example, are fantastic not in a vaccum but in what they add to the character. This is simply the way it is done by the greats.

    And while it is hard to argue a 4.5 is low, in this case I think I will, gently. If this isn’t a 5 there isn’t one. And I know Matthew has a good reason, and like him I am a big softy so I had a tear or two, I think that moment only adds to the magnificence of this book. That Xander does not get to explore and grow the relationship is the price for his relationship with Buffy. He has paid it time and again and will continue to do so until the end. It is why he clings to her at the end of the book knowing that loving her has cost him everything, but not able to let go.

    And for those out there thinking I have forgotten, it has also cost Willow everything, including a piece of her soul. The Green Serpent thing in her vision is the dark goddess she begins summoning at the end of Season 6 to destroy the world. So in this issue that had everything we even get a shout out to a future Big Bad with seeds in the past. Man, this is GREAT!!!

  7. June 10, 2008 at 5:20 pm — Reply

    Tom Grice is right, sir! RIGHT!

  8. J'osh
    June 11, 2008 at 2:00 am — Reply

    Renee’s death shouldn’t have been a shock. Well maybe in that it happend so soon. A hallmark of Whedon’s writing/plotting is his characters never get what they want in the love department. And Xander never got Buffy, timing was off with Willow, Cordelia was a diaster and Anya speaks for herself. The less said about the Mummy the better.
    And Xander wasn’t even number one. You really could make baseball card stats for messed up love in the Whedonverse. I would have said Buffyverse – but poor Wash comes to mind.

  9. Lifeisaglitch
    June 11, 2008 at 6:16 am — Reply

    @J’osh

    True the only reason Wash was snuffed was actually because he was married and the impact would be greater…That and he was basically every bodies fav character. Whedon always does this, and i cant really complain.

  10. June 11, 2008 at 8:36 am — Reply

    I just wish he hadn’t ‘killed’ Kitty …

  11. Silver_Thistle
    August 1, 2008 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    I read this one and found it to be one of my favorites. Number 16 was awesome too, with Dracula’s “Oh balls…” bit and of course the interactions between Dracula and Xander (normally I hate Xander pairings with anyone but Anya or Cordelia, (especially dislike Spike, Angel/us paired with him or Riley ew.) but Dracula/Xander seems to work for me, which is odd. (Don’t get me wrong, I love yaoi, I just usually don’t like Xander in one. Spike/Angel/us gives me a happy and throw Buffy in and I’m on cloud 11 and 1/2 (unlike cloud nine they have cable and a wet bar). )

    I was in NYC on my birthday when I got Buffy season 8 number 12 and was reading it on the subway and burst out (naturally silencing the whole car so that they all stare at me ((although the swords I bought in China town may have had something to do with it)) “BETH BUFFY’S HAVING SEX WITH A GIRL!” The fun part was two teenagers ran over from the other end of the car and started reading over my shoulder (one way to meet fellow Buffy fans) and I began Beth’s decent into the Buffyverse. *happy dance*

    I really liked Satsu and I’m hoping to find out (probably season nine to be cannon) Spike and Angels reactions to Buffy having had sex with a cute Japanese girl. My bet is both are gonna be stunned and then Angel will turn and say to Spike

    “She never did that before she got with you.”

    and Spike will go “Sorry mate, you were to namby pamby for her to think of it. I’m borrowin the jet.”

    “Why?”

    “Gotta make a pit stop in Japan then running to Scotland. Been wanting to get some onigiri anyway.”

    “Spike, *looks like he’s getting a head ache* what the hell is an onrigini? some sick sex toy?”

    “No mate, ‘s rice ball, dunk it in some O positive, wonderful stuff. Dru thought it up, turned out to be one of the best blood entries I’ve ever tried.”

    Angel shakes it off as Spike strides off calling after the blonde “She’s waiting for me! She’s-she’s still baking! She’ll come for me, you’ll see!”

    Spike smirks and waves a hand nonchalantly over his head.

    This is of course non-cannon since W&H got all blown up, but it’s still a fun idea.

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