Or – “How Do You Fight A War When You’ve Sworn Not To Fight Anymore?”


So.  You’ve decided to purge yourself of your magic so the enemy can’t find you.  The enemy finds you and attacks, but you’ve given up your magic, so you can’t DEFEND yourself.  Buffy and her band of slayerettes are about to find out what you do when your back is against the wall and you can’t teleport through it anymore…

BVS2.jpgPreviously, on Buffy The Vampire Slayer:  When the mysterious cult of Twilight (led by a madnman of the same name with a full array of Kryptonian superpowers) tracked down the Slayers lairs, Buffy made the call to bug out, teleporting all the slayers to the mountains of Tibet, to the retreat of former werewolf Oz.  Through hard work and deep focus, the Slayers and their witchy women divest themselves of  their demonic abilities, channeling their powers into the earth itself, hoping that the lack of a “magic radar ping” will keep Twilight from being able to track them down.  Of course, Plan A never works for Buffy Anne Summers (it’s one of the immutable laws of the universe) and now the powerless slayers have to defend themselves against a full-on assault by military forces without their usual brand of mystical backup…  For the record, Willow was absolutely right when she said that they needed to keep their magic, stupid “addiction” storyline be damned, and it was short-sighted of everyone to give up their strongest weapon in the vague hope of being “safe.”

“We’re going to be fighting a real war,” says Dawn at the outset of this issue, “a real war without magic on our side.”  Everyone strategizes and tries to deal with the reality of the battle before them, the very real expectation of casualties, and the need to actually use weapons for once.  Willow angrily points out that the only thing they’re missing is any chance in hell of pulling this off, and rages that this plan was stupid from the outset.  When Oz tries to calm her, she angrily points out that she KNEW this was wrong, that she could never have a family, because she has to die a crazy old witch in the future.  While she and Buffy deal with the fallout of this emotional revelation, Xander and Dawn prepare the others to use guns, rockets and bombs, on the somewhat nonsensical ground that they’re the “normal” ones who never had any magic.  This seems like a pretty clear answer to the question of “Does Xander still remember his super-soldier from Halloween memories?” if you ask me.  Either way, the twosome seem to enjoy their new status as leaders (as well as their new status as, apparently, a couple, after last issues revelationary kiss.)

The monastery is soon enough under siege by plane and tank, and even Oz’s breakaway werewolf faction arrives to help defend them from their attacks.  Of course, they’re magic, but they’re not bulletproof.  “I’m starting to think there’s a reason no one’s written a suspense novel where the conflict is wolves vs. tanks,” says Buffy tartly.  As their foces fail to even slow the heavy artillery down, Xander busts out his own heavy weapon: a torpedo from the recently scuttled submarine that the slayer teleported to Tibet in.  (Y’know, that’s not a sentence that I ever expected to write, even doing this for the last three years, so…  Thanks Joss Whedon and company.  Kinda.)  Buffy comes to the realization that Willow was right, that they do need magic to win this battle, and remembers that Oz’s wife said that their powers were being “redirected,” not taken down.  Bayarmaa confirms this, reminding them that their powers are being redirected into the Earth, and Buffy tells her that she knows that the spell involved an invocation of local goddesses.  Goddesses, she says, of wrath…  And if you’re angry enough, you can call them to assist you.  “Oh, I have some anger,” replies Buffy, as she and Willow hurriedly prepare a spell.  While Xander and company continue the ground assault, Buffy and Willow call upon their air support:  Three multicolored, gigantic and mighty ticked-off Tibetan deities.

It’s easy to look at someone else’s strategy in retrospect and poke holes in it, but this one seems to be pretty transparent:  the magic is the only thing that gave them a shot in Hades of facing their foes with anything approaching a defensible position.  Giving it up completely was a terrible idea, a longshot that proved to be it’s own downfall.  I have never understood, nor have I enjoyed any of the ridiculous nonsense regarding Willow’s “magic addiction,” even when she tried to destroy the entire universe in a fit of pique.  But, I admit that it makes for good drama, and even I have to say that this has made for an interesting storyline.  This issue is half setup and half battle, focusing on the overall conflict, which makes it feel a bit remote for most of our sprawling cast.  Willow’s screen-time is well handled though, and the realization that she shouldn’t have given up her magic because she ISN’T going to have given up her magic in the far-flung future is heart-breaking…  The overall issue, though, doesn’t have the same sense of immediacy that I would have liked, showing the battle from the perspective of the generals, even after we set up the expectation of casualties and extensive battle.  George Jeanty’s art, however, is as strong as ever, especially in the presentation of the vengeful goddesses at the end, and the issue is a relatively smooth concotion overall.  Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #29 makes a strong showing, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall, even with my problems with the underlying conceit bugging me throughout.



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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