Dueling Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer #33

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ROBOT OVERLORD: Nothing creeps out robots like those freakin’ vampires. Only the Robots should live forever and be allowed to suck dry the joy that is human life… That’s probably why I, Your Robot Overlord, probably enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer so much.    I have been made aware that many humans also enjoy the Joss Whedon approved series, so I’ve been kind to Matthew and Stephen this week, and asked them to spill the beans.  I’ve even allowed them to skip a day so they could prepare for the awesome sauce that is Buffy.

BuffySeason8_33.jpgBuffy the Vampire Slayer
Writer: Brad Meltler
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
Inks: Andy Owens
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Previously, on Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 8:  When Willow Rosenberg channeled the power of the Chosen One into the thousands of potential Slayers around the world, she never expected what came next…  Buffy Summers and her retinue created a virtual army of slayers and began training them in the stabby stabby arts.  However, the federal government was (understandably) unhappy with the concept of a superhuman militia in their midst, and took action against the girls in a decidedly unpleasant manner.  Moreover, they allied themselves with a mysterious masked being called Twilight, who has the standard array of Kryptonian super-powers.  Twilight and Buffy have brought their armies together in combat in the mountains of Tibet (long story involving werewolves and a submarine) and in the wake of the carnage, Buffy has also awakened with quasi-Kara-Zor-El powers.  Last issue ended with double revelations, as three of Twilight’s lieutenants defected to Buffy’s side, three of Buffy’s lieutenants were captured by Twi, and it was revealed that the source of Buffsters extra juice wasn’t a space whale or a magic ring, but the essences of her own fellow slayers, channeling into her upon their deaths…

MATTHEW:  Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  We’re probably all aware that a couple of months ago, Dark Horse let slip the identity of the Big Bad as a Hail Mary to try and boost this book back into the top ten.  With that in mind (and remembering that the site is called Major Spoilers) we’re going to take an honest look at this book based on what it IS, and not whether we were (or even whether we were meant to BE) surprised.

STEPHEN:
There are a couple of ways to look at this reveal.  The first is to gently remind Dark Horse that their previews do go out months ahead of time, and that they could take a clue from Marvel in redacting all solicitations to build up suspense.  The other is commend Dark Horse for letting loose that Barack Obama is Twilight months ahead of time in order to get this title back into the Top 20 Titles sold in the month of March.  There are only a few people who are going to know which of these theories are fact, and unfortunately, they won’t return any of my phone calls.  Regardless, the net effect was a general bump in discussion about Buffy that hasn’t been seen since the series first launched oh so many years ago.  Do I mind the fact that they spoiled the reveal?  Well, I am the guy that named this site Major Spoilers.  Does it tarnish some of the fun, perhaps, but at the same time it did make me look forward to this issue.

MATTHEW: As far as the story itself goes, there’s a quintessential angsty Buffy moment early in this issue wherein Brad Meltzer captures the entire B. Summers mystique in one moment, as the Slayer realizes that draining powers from the dead makes her, in her mind, just another vampire.  (That’s the one thing I can’t stand about Santa Anita, by the way…)  Her facial expressions are perfectly captured by George Jeanty as well, with a single tear escaping her eye as she speaks the words.  Even if the rest of the book were offal, that little jewel was practically worth my $2.99 alone.

STEPHEN: I’ve always been a fan of Xander, and his Superman pep-talk in this issue, and the general relationship between Xander and Buffy have always been my favorite moments in the entire tome of Buffy-ness.  I don’t even mind that Meltzer continued to drop comic book character references throughout the issue.  The fact that he was able to balance the DC character talk, with the hysterical/Hellz Yeah! Andrew-as-every-Marvel-hero moment is a nice touch on Meltzer’s part.   But let’s not forget the moments between the other Buffy comrades in this issue…

MATTHEW: The interactions between Giles, Faith, Andrew and the big bad is handled well, with Giles quickly figuring out the identity of the masked man, (for the purposes of this review, we’ll call him/her/it “Seraphim”) and it was kind of fun to see Faith characteristically testing his invulnerability with a kick in the minor arcana.  (I have no idea where Andrew got all his geek gear, though, and the moment where he appears decked out in it seems a bit familiar to me as a Venture Brothers fan.)  There’s some really well-handled fighty-fighty here as well, given the fact that we’re using images of television actors in a comic book to simulate those actors on television having a comic-book-style fight.  It feels more like two real people engaging in a comic-book type fight than it really should, and it ends with “Seraphim” revealing that he looks remarkably like FBI agent Seely Booth…

STEPHEN: For those that haven’t read the war of words that spilled across the Intardwebz between Bill Willingham and Dark Horse over the Angel is Twilight (THERE I SAID IT) reveal, I think the ultimate (literal) unmasking of the master villain was well done.  There are so many clues dropped throughout the sereis that lead the reader to this reveal, and in hindsight it’s pretty cool.

It’s also potentially lame as if the payoff of this arc only results in some steamy pages of David Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar getting it on on page.  I need something more to the conclusion of this season besides, “we were destined to get it on, so let’s get it on like superheroes”. There needs to be something bigger, something badder, something that requires both of these characters to use their new found powers to some greater good.  Not that F#@%ing F#@%ing can’t be a greater good…

MATTHEW: I like the art in this issue a lot, as Jeanty manages to capture David Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar quite well as they come to terms with the revelation that they’ve been working on opposite sides, and Angel does reference some craziness in Los Angeles in his past.  I also like the running gag as the battle rages, wherein Xander, Willow and Dawn try to figure out whats going on (“Did you hear that?”  “Sounds like a sonic boom.”  “I think they’re fighting.”) especially as the issue ends with a variation on it (“Did you hear that?”  “Sounds like a sonic boom.”  “I think they’re F#@%ing.”) and the issue progresses in a logical Buffy fashion, given the history between our leads…

STEPHEN: I’ll agree with you there.  I think Jeanty is on his game here, and did a great job in drawing a superhero battle in a book that isn’t about superheroes.

MATTHEW: For me, the issue more than does its job, as I was surprised not only at Angel’s reasoning for his actions, but Buffy’s response thereto, and I liked that it wasn’t a “Nyaah ha haaaa, I am now eevil!” mustache-twisting moment.  Brad Meltzer has a great ear for dialogue, and can craft a nice dramatic moment, but if anybody believes that Warren, Amy, and the General have truly switched sides, they’ve gotta be nuts.  It’s clear to me that some sort of necromancy is going on, as Twilight has essentially traded a geek, an angry rebellious girl and an older male authority figure for the same, and I suspect some sort of sympathetic magic going on.  Still and all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #33 is quite engaging, and earns a rather impressive 4 out of 5 Stars overall.  Yeah, I would have preferred that Angel remain a secret until the release, but, at least it wasn’t Obama, right?

Rating: ★★★★☆

STEPHEN: When a giant submarine appeared in Tibet, I felt the series was aligning it self with that ramp next to the shark tank.  Thankfully, Meltzer pulled it together to bring back the thing that makes Buffy interesting – the characters.  It’s the character moments that sell the story.  It’s about these kids maturing into adulthood, while dealing with some very heady responsibilities.  Of course, the fighty-fighty and the stabby-stabby are pretty fun too, but I love how the characters in this series seem more real than every before.   I’m going along with you here on this one, giving Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #33, 4 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆