Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Buffy #38 Review (Spoilers)

The Preamble: It occurs to me that I'm going to live just long enough to regret what I said on preview night and then be brutally murdered by a very angry fanbase.  At the time, it seemed like saying something exciting to get people jumpy would be a good idea.  I thought it would be, you know... fun?  I guess what I'm trying to say is: Dead Blogger Walking.  In the past I've done the plot first followed by the review.  Since we're so close, I'm going to review first with as few spoilers as possible and then post the plot but keep it blacked out for those who want to wait until they get the actual issue.  Consider it an olive branch in the hope that I won't be drawn and quartered (or become the subject of hate!fic for years to come... if I'm not already, that is).

The Review: I woke up this morning and realized I was supposed to write this review yesterday and now I'd have to do a rush job.  In some ways, that forces me to pull out all the stops, try for something really impressive to compensate for the fact that I'm winging it as I go.  I know it's been four years, I know there was a meeting between Joss and Scott to go over everything, but I can't help but feel like this issue reads as though it was written on the fly.  There's just so much happening and, at times, it feels convoluted.  Twilight, the Seed, Buffy, Angel, Spike, the possible end of magic, the US army, Bug One, it's everything and the kitchen sink which leaves very little breathing room.  It is, in essence the antithesis of "The Weight of the World".

On the plus side, when it fires, it does so on all cylinders.  The betrayer is now looking more like "betrayers".  I really like how every character has their own unique and conflicting motivations right now.  There's something mature and honest about close friends drifting apart even when they're standing right next to one another.  I also like how there's still some mystery left.  With all the major notes, one of my biggest questions was "What is Giles playing at?" and he wasn't even all that actively involved this time around.

There are only two issues left before the curtain falls and every character is set to go through some major changes.  There's a reason Season 9 will be split into multiple titles.  I don't think anyone is going to be able to look each other in the eye.  So, yes.  All very exciting, big cliffhanger ending, I just hope it all makes some semblance of sense when the dust clears.

The Plot: I can't believe they killed... that random bug on Bug One!  Yes, yes.  Throw your sticks, your rotten produce, possibly your very sharp knives, hurl me down a flight of steps onto some bullets.  It was a bit of a psyche out.  Tantalizing people is an imperfect science.  I might have gone a bit wrong this go around.  If you could maybe not murder me, that would be cool.  But back to the beginning!

The preview you know.  Angel fights with the Twilight Lion, the Master has a chat with the Scoobies while all hell breaks loose outside, and then demons show up and smack the crap out of Dawn.  Now... they fight, the demons demand Willow tell them where "it" is by which I assume they mean the seed.  They fight some more, Willow nearly sets Spike on fire, it's a bit of a scene.  Demons defeated, Xander holds Dawn.  She looks... not good.  Dawn groans "Buffy..."

She's alright.  Sort of.  Xander complains that she's a bit too heavy to carry which raises some girlfriend snark.  Body image issues are hilarious!  Buffy sends Xander and Dawn away to get Dawn some care away from the fight and we can see that Dawn is, at least, able to walk on her own.

The Master tells Buffy he needs her to help him guard the seed.  In a single panel we see Angel, elsewhere) just his face but it's kind of... green and his eyes are completely yellowed out.  He's zombie Angel.  Meanwhile, Buffy isn't terribly interested in working with her first big bad (barring Lothos, of course).  She snaps off a make shift stake and tells Spike to hold the Master down.  Willow stops this by telling Buffy that they are currently losing the war and that, if the Master wants what they want, then he's part of the team.  There's an argument since, you know, the Master kind of killed Buffy that one time.  Willow brushes it off by saying that Buffy and Spike weren't always "B.F.F.'s" which is a pretty shitty comparison frankly.  Buffy rightly calls out Willow and asks her what happened when she went temporarily comatose.  Willow admits to being "summoned" by her sexy snake lady but when Buffy asks what was said, Willow deflects.  "If the seed can connect the spiritual realms to this new Twilight Sex Eden you created, maybe we can use it to heal the Earth, chase the demons out.  Maybe we can use it to make the world better, Buffy".

And now we're in the room with the seed.  Yes, that room.  The casa de betrayal sauce.  The Master's eyes turn red.  He's in a bit of a thrall.  There is thrallage.  He attacks Buffy and hurls Spike across the room.  He announces that the seed is "not without its defenses" and, indeed, it would seem that Buffy has no power here.  The Master tells Buffy that she is the same little girl he met years ago, that he can still smell the acne scrub.  Wait, Buffy used acne scrub?  Anyway, it looks like he's going to kill Buffy, Giles looks like he'll shoot either the Master or maybe the seed but instead Willow stops him and tells the Master that they will help him protect the seed.  This, for some reason, temporarily stops the Master long enough for Willow to tell Buffy to get out of there.  Giles ushers Buffy away and they have part one of what I am now deeming "the talk".  No, not the birds and the bees.  It's about how the seed was there all along, how did Giles not know?  It can Kill Buffy and Angel?  Giles says that he didn't understand the Twilight thing save for the idea that is was "terrifying".  They cop to the fact that the whole "Chosen" thing is the reason Twilight became possible.  Buffy does that thing she does where she blames herself for every death in the history of forever.

Meanwhile, there's Angel.  I, uh... uh oh.  He's laying down, the lion stand over him.  "Stand up".  He does.  "Fly".  Yeah, that, too.  I guess the Master's not the only one under a thrall today.

On Bug One, the General smashes one of the bugs over the head... to death.  Yup.  Your death for #38, everybody (please, no real life murderin' times!)  Warren and Amy wonder why they didn't do that a while ago but the General isn't interested in spending anymore time with them.  He splits the scene to go and find his army buddies.

Back to Buffy and Giles for "the talk" part dos.  Well, Spike is there now so there's more planning than talking.  Buffy needs to get in the fight and so does Spike but Spike can't exactly go strolling out into daylight.  That's fine, stand around long enough and the fight will come to you.  Before that, though, Giles makes with the inspiration words.  

"This may be Sunnydale, but we're not running 'round cemeteries anymore, Buffy.  You're not that girl.  You've become something I never could have imagined."

"Giles, these powers"

"I don't mean the powers.  But you must put those powers to use now.  And I can help, but not here.  I'll see you when this is over..."

Yeah... what the hell, comic?  Are you going to kill Giles?  Sorry, sorry.  The plot!  Giles busts a move and the demons make towards Buffy and Spike.  And, shucks howdy, that's a whole mess of demons.

Army tent.  Xander and Dawn turn up and run into the General.  You'd think this would be a bit of a problem but the General is happy to help stitch up Dawn.  He also has some choice words for Xander.

"You seem like a normal guy, could even be mistaken for a solider.  Our intel says there's a way to end all this, you know.  There's something here.  All we gotta do is destroy it.  All the fighting ends.  That's why your friends shot down there, right?  But they want to protect it, don't they?  Son, believe me, I understand the temptation of power, but are they so addicted to it they want all *this*, too?"

Did someone say "addiction"?  Oh, look, it's Willow!  Miss "magic is a drug" herself.  She's got the Master in some magical shackles.  And she's talking... to the Master?  Nope.  To the seed.

"Awake in peace!  Your eyes that dart the rays of the sun, whose divine power is great on the head of the goddess!  Your heart is the beat of life, that gives life to all!  The queen of Earth undying the regent in the west, and in the east, the Divine Mother who ascends to the throne!"

Willows eyes are bright red.  Yes, it's a trilogy o' thrall, this week.

"Let your sworn protector stand against your enemies!"

To be continued?  No?  You mean there's more?  Alright then!
Buffy and Spike at the mouth of the cave, beating back the demon horde.  Uh oh, there's a really big one and Spike isn't sure how they'll take it down.  Suddenly, the demon just bursts.  Oh, good, it's Angel.  Buffy is relieved.  Except we, the audience, know that something isn't right in Angel-ville and we can see that his eyes are red-rimmed.  He punches Buffy into a wall.  Spike shouts "Angelus!"  Yeah... no.  Angel grabs Spike and throws him into what I think is outside, into the sunlight. Ruh roh.

In response to the "Angelus" accusation.  Buffy says "No" and Angel responds simply with "Twilight".

Now we're at the end.  Wowzers!  See you next month assuming I'm not dead by fandom.

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