Or – “Didn’t I Just DO One Of These?”


I can’t tell if it’s a function of my tendency to be at least a week behind in my reviews (with my current schedules, I don’t usually buy my comics until Sunday afternoon, when I’m working) but it seems like I’ve been reviewing a lot of Buffy lately.  The good news is, it’s hardly a chore, as the book is humming like a well-oiled humming-thing-covered-in-oil, giving us drama, intrigue, some nice dialogue, and not skimping on the ol’ fighty-fighty, something that many comic books lately are eschewing in favor of all-singing, all-dancing, green-skinned alien flashbacks.  (No, I don’t mean “Betty and Veronica.”)  The story of Buffy going back to the future has lit a new flame under the leader of the Slayers, as she’s forced to come face-to-face with her own legacy, and see the real impact she will have had on the world…  As with any reality check, the slap in the face is complimentary with the service.

Previously, on Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 8:  The Chosen One got tired of being just the one (it is, after all, the loneliest number) and, faced with her annihilation, came up with a desperate plan to BVS2.jpgshare her status, effectively creating a Chosen One subculture.  (I mean, what the hell, it worked for the goths, right?)  Buffy followed this by gathering four or five hundred of her closest friends together, and setting up training academies around the world to prepare her slayer army for whatever battles might come.  This sort of mobilization didn’t go unnoticed, of course, and every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so a mysterious sompin sompin named Twilight formed his own organization, named after himself (because “Neener Neener, You Got Super-Powers But You Still Suck, Pretty Girls” was already taken.)  They’ve skirmished repeatedly, but Buffy was sidetracked by a coven of Tokyo vampires, and traveled to Manhattan, only to find herself thrust like a willowy blonde Buck Rogers into the world that’s coming.  Now, teamed up with Melaka Fray, the girl who will inherit her powers, Buffy tries desperately to find the series of events that will lead her to leap home…  No, wait, that’s Doctor Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap.  Ahh, it’s pretty similar, I’ll go with it…

This issue starts off with a moment that would demoralize even the most esteemy of us: a clear realization of what our actions mean to the future.  Buffy Summers has read through book after book in the dusty library that Melaka inherited as the last Slayer, and has realized that her efforts to create a better world have led to…  precisely diddly divided by squat.  There’s no mention of her army, her cause, and the future of her world is a dark and corrupt place.  Just as she is overcome by emotion, Fray returns from some sort of patrol, explaining in her NewSpeak that she has a lead.  “Gunther said there’s been a hum in the uppers…  I fig we stake some lush haunt, lurks come out, we skin ’em for stories, yeah?”  Buffy wipes away her tears, and replies, “Does any part of that sentence involve me beating something up?”  Heh.  The Slayers set out on their mission, while (well, actually YEARS before, but it’s a time travel story) Willow and her girlfriend Kennedy try to find out the truth of what happened to Buffy, to no avail.  The interplay with Willow and Kennedy is really cute, as Will faux-curses (“Frak.”) and tries to explain to Kennedy that they have to do something that Kennedy may not like…

In Scotland, in the present, Xander Harris and Dawn Summers race through the forests, an injured Xan forced to sit astride Dawn’s new centaur body in a kind of creepy moment.  Xander falls off (“It’s okay, I didn’t break anything that wasn’t already shot.”  Heh.) and asks how she feels after having to stoop to such horsey doings.  “Like I was ridden hard and put away wet.”  HA!  Xander starts to reply that it’s a disgusting thought, but then realizes it’s true.  They put two and two together, figuring the joint techno/magical attack on their castle had to be the work of Skinless Frank and Psychobitch, known more colloquially as Warren and Amy.  “The Laurel and Hardy of being a dick.”  Dang, the quips are really sharp this issue.  Just as they come to the realization, a tree moves, wielding a flaming blade, and tells them that this place is forbidden to humans…   Dawn crosses her arms, and with the attitude only a teenage girl can muster, sneers, “Yeah.  Do I look human to you, tree-boy?”  Xander explains that they’ve seen scarier things today, and the dryad seems confused.  Cut back the future, as Fray’s merman information broker finds that his upper chamber (the glass floor of which serves as the top of his tank, through which he perved on Buffy’s panties last ish) is full of vampires, led by Fray’s brother Harth.  They tough-guy some back and forth dialogue, before Gunter the fishman lays some knowledge on them.  “I was born in the gutter, boy.  Not near… IN.  I have worked, and killed, and dodged or bought the laws until I control half of Haddyn, and I have down it without ever breathing air.  Don’t think to outbeast me.”  Harth walks away, leaving Gunther alone, not realizing that his waters are likewise full of vampires…

In the upper levels of the city (Haddyn, once called Manhattan, y’see) Buffy and Fray steal an expensive hovercar to get into the gated areas where the rich folks live, but Fray is distracted by fighting vamps.  She leaps from the car, and gets into a fight, not listening to Buffy’s palaver about “the big picture.”  She is confronted by future-Willow, who steps out of the shadows and calmly explains, “You have to understand Buffy.  If you hate her, she’ll be harder to kill.”  In the past, we find young Willow engaing in what looks like some pretty strenuous tantric magic (look it up, I ain’t explainin’) allowing her to confer with her mysterious magical lamia benefactor.  The creature seems hurt by Willow’s insistence on saving Buffy, and only gives her tiny bits of information, explaining that the time rift will reopen, but warning her not to look through it…  Future Willow explains to Fray that she has to kill Buffy, because their eventual goals aren’t compatible.  Fray snots that they both want to kill “lurks,” and Willow turns her logic back on her.  “The most important men in BOTH your lives are “lurks.”  You think it’s really that simple?”  She shows Fray something (that we don’t see) as we find Buffy returning to Fray’s place after wrecking the skycar.  She meets with Fray’s big sister, a future cop, who distracts her for a moment before she gets frap-gunned down by… Fray? 

This is an interesting issue, filled with twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting (the vampires in the water was a particularly breath-taking swerve) and ending on a pretty shocking cliff-hanger overall.  I suspect that next issue will wrap everything up, and I hope that it gives us some explanation of what’s going on with Willow…  Still, Joss Whedon does here what Joss Whedon does best, with crisp dialogue, and characters that have their own agendas, even within the bounds of the story.  Karl Moline’s art works perfectly with this style, giving us nice contrasts between the shiny aspects of the future, it’s dark underbelly, and the woods of Scotland.  The questions of “Who is Twilight?,” “What’s up with Dawn?,” “What is happening with Willow?” aren’t the main focus, but none of them are allowed to fade away while the main character has her big crossover, something I really liked.  This issue didn’t really hit any false notes for me, giving me all the value my three bucks could have hoped for, and then some.  Buffy The Vampire Slayer #18 is an excellent issue, ranking 4.5 out of 5 stars, and making me sad that this series is heading for it’s halfway point…


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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  1. Roy
    September 13, 2008 at 8:00 am — Reply

    This is easily one of the best books going right now. I liked the bit about “[t]he most important men in BOTH your lives are “lurks” – with Fray, we know Willow’s talking about her brother……but who, specifically, is Willow referring to with regards to Buffy? Spike or Angel?

  2. Roy
    September 13, 2008 at 8:03 am — Reply

    Oh, and that cover depicts what absolutely must be the HAWTEST centaur of all time. And I feel more than a little creepy having just typed that.

  3. September 13, 2008 at 11:26 am — Reply

    Probably both Spike AND Angel…

  4. Adam
    September 13, 2008 at 3:20 pm — Reply

    I think the character of Dawn is 18 at this point in the time. So, no need to feel creepy. Well maybe a little creepy…but not too much.

  5. Lifeisaglitch
    September 13, 2008 at 6:43 pm — Reply

    Adam i think he was refering to ya know her being a FREAKING CENTAUR! :D

  6. Adam
    September 14, 2008 at 8:39 am — Reply

    Maybe he’s a furry. Or a half furry in the case of Centaurs :) How would you…..with a centaur….nevermind.

  7. September 15, 2008 at 9:53 am — Reply

    Adam: You wouldn’t. You — a simple, regular human — would be competing with horses. And that ‘hung like a …’ thing is around for a reason.

    And now I feel creepy.

  8. September 15, 2008 at 10:00 pm — Reply

    Um, “Buffet, the Vampire-Layer,” anyone?

    What the hell is up with that cover? I know vampirism and eroticism go hand-in-hand since Lestat starting giving interviews, but…bitch, please! Put on some clothes!

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