♠Disclaimer: This is not a review. If you're looking for the full on spoiler fest, you ought to poke your peepers elsewhere. This here is some fine genuine analysis so get the darn comic and, when you're done flipping through it a few times, put on your best smarty pants, and then read this thing.
It might just be the theme, not just of season 8, but of Buffy as a series. Sometimes hope can be the thing that leads us to salvation but, sometimes, it can lead us astray. Sometimes the road to hell is paved with hope.
I suspect that was Brad Meltzer's intention during the "Twilight" arc as he cobbled out this idea that one girl vs. innumerable vampires, demons, ad infinitum works but an army of slayers makes for a topsy turvy world gone wrong. We all know that Buffy's decision in Chosen was going to have consequences, that her decision to call all the potentials at once meant taking the choice away from countless other women but, at the same time, I don't think it's enough to say "Buffy was wrong". I don't think a writer can ever say, simply, "that was bad, no cookie for you" nor can we, as viewers or readers ever say, conclusively, what the truth of things is.
All that being said, Buffy was wrong. She betrayed herself, she betrayed her girls, her family, her friends, and the world. That's the theme after all. Betrayal. And hope, but we're not there just yet. Keep that one in your back pocket for now.
Buffy #40 is the end of the great experiment that was Season 8. Can you take a show that aired for seven seasons and turn it into a successful comic book? Can an army of slayers unite to fight the forces of darkness? Can fandom not bicker and , in general, behave like a bunch of collective dillweeds for five seconds? One of the best (and worst) things about Season 8 is how all of these things have become so interconnected. Buffy, Joss, you and I… we're asking the same questions, fighting the same struggles; we're just doing it on different playing fields in different ways. But this is Joss's baby and, before everyone else has their final word, el jefe gets to say his piece.
What's he saying? Well, I think he's saying that there is no one single ideal that can keep hundreds of unique voices in synch forever. I think he's saying that Buffy is a charismatic leader but, then again, so was Hitler. I think he's acknowledging some of the flaws that have been repeatedly pointed out, most especially that sex in space is kind of silly.
Buffy #40 is an entire issue that simultaneously gets back to the old formula while also saying "Don't get too comfy just yet". It's a pinch of fan service with a few heaping spoonfuls of "I'm still in charge, alright?" This is the last time we'll probably see all the Scoobies contained within the same pages for a while and we don't even see them all together at once. This is Buffy's POV, so it all ekes out a little at a time.
What we do get is gloriously familiar. Buffy with Xander and Dawn is the humor and intimacy of family. Buffy with Willow is the shared pain of regret, the labored love and resentment that two best friends can only share when they've given and taken away everything from each other. Buffy and Faith are the separated sisters still in constant competition despite themselves, both still vying for the love of a father that can't hear them anymore. Buffy and Spike are the old lovers, uneasy in their own skin whenever they're close but still trying to look beyond the scars they've given each other and still reach out for…
Hope. Because changing the world aint all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes when you try to build a better world you sort of kind of accidentally almost destroy the entire universe in the process. Sometimes you don't change anything at all and, even when you do, it's never in the way you intended it.
But, if you're Buffy, there's always hope. It's the thing that separates her from Angel, and the reason I think Joss chose to mirror the end of "Not Fade Away". Funny thing about a mirror, what you see in the reflection is the same but opposite.
Hope is the one thing we all struggle to keep. We're all hoping that out lives will have meaning, that we can make a difference. Whether your demons are literal or metaphorical, whether you're the one who created it all or are part of the community that binds it together, we all hope for more, for better, from each other, from ourselves, from the world.
I just hope we don't all accidentally have a fan orgy in the vacuum of space and destroy the universe in the process. All I'm sayin'!