Thursday, December 2, 2010


The Preamble/Review, well salted, with spoilers aplenty and maybe a little soapbox preaching:

Before looking at this, you should read the comic first.  I'm not going to talk about everything, just share the thoughts I had after reading it.  If you've read someone's summation on a forum, you've done yourself a disservice.  There have been many issues I've posted detailed summaries of shortly after their release but none were quite like Buffy #39.  I can't express how disappointed I am that so many peoples' first impression will be based off of a mediocre description written in broken english.

I read this issue about three weeks ago and I'm still in shock.  That's how powerful it is but now there are all these people saying "that sounds stupid".  This will get me in trouble but, for once, I'll really speak my mind.  Read the issue.  Actually absorb it and formulate an opinion of your own instead of parroting what your buddies are saying.  Try to place your shipping preferences aside.  This isn't a competition.  It's not about who winds up with who.  It's about how these characters who, for better or worse, have all made sacrifice after sacrifice to try to save the world, have all failed in one way or another.  It's about how they betrayed each other, it's about how they betrayed themselves.  And for one of them, it's the end.

In a way, it's not until now, as I write this review, that I'm actually feeling the loss.  Rupert Giles is dead.  No alarms, no surprises, no retcons.  You can say what you want about things he may have done wrong, about how he wasn't there for Buffy in the final two television seasons or how he was noticeably absent for much of the comic but, when you look beyond all that,you see the truth. 

Giles is Buffy's dad and now there's just a body.  He'll never talk about the smell of books or drink tea, ever, and he'll never get that confused look on his face or rub his glasses thoughtfully, not ever.  And Buffy will cry but he won't be there to comfort her.

They saved the world but at a terrible cost.  Willow embraced the seed's power, seemingly falling prey to old temptations only to have all magic ripped not just from her, but torn from the whole world.  Xander stood frozen, desperately looking for the one right answer that doesn't exist.  Buffy, with nothing left to lose, destroys the one thing that makes her world everything that it is.  Destroying the seed is like destroying the meaning of life.  It's the soul of the world and it's shattered because she did the shattering.

And Angel.  He can't hide behind Twilight.  He chose his path and, as he becomes fully aware and in control again, he has to accept that he has finally done something that Buffy should never forgive.  There's something hopeful and dreamlike in the idea that there is someone out there for you, who you were born to love and who was born to love you.  But that's not Buffy's world anymore and it was Angel's chasing after destiny that brought it's destruction.

Spike's off chasing monsters.  He wasn't part of the crew this season and, frankly, lucky him.  He's smarter than the rest, though.  He knows that, even though this is tragedy of the highest order, that Buffy will go on living because she has to.  He knows there's more to life than a seed of wonder.  That's why Season 8 wasn't his story, particularly.  The lessons that Buffy and Angel had to learn are ones Spike already knows.

Thus endeth the climax with Buffy writhing on the floor, Angel only becoming aware of what he's done, Xander trying to find a way to pick up the pieces and a broken-bodied Willow going insane.  And Buffy's father, and, in a way, all their fathers, really, lies silent, never to be heard again.

It was heartbreaking.  It was beautiful.  It had a giant vagina monster attacking a lesbian witch but, other than that, it was really, really good.


anca said...

Oh, thanks, good review.

It's hard to see Giles leaving this world in a such cruel/quick manner. I think I want to say he deserved more than his death to be another lesson to Buffy.

I hope you'll ask Scott about his (Whedon&writers) opinion on S8 theme, he said a while back he'll answer after #39 is out.

AndrewCrossett said...

"It had a giant vagina monster attacking a lesbian witch but, other than that, it was really, really good."

My suspicion is that it wasn't attacking her, but was sent to rescue her, courtesy of a certain snaky goddess. Vag = Portal. But I'll have to see the issue before I know if that idea works or not.

C.G. said...

He knows there's more to life than a seed of wonder. That's why Season 8 wasn't his story, particularly. The lessons that Buffy and Angel had to learn are ones Spike already knows.

The idea that Angel didn't already know that by the end of AtS S5 is ludicrous. But then, this comic has never particularly cared about maintaining any kind of IC portrayal of Angel as a character.

Kohakusama said...

this made me cry

Kaaren said...

What is a "Hollywod Spoiler?" Is it a typo or am I missing something?

cil_domney said...

Wonderful review -

Thank you for all your efforts and bringing us all the interviews with the Dark Horse writers and your own commentary.

Losing Giles is just like losing her father - and there is no coming back from that. It like you state, there will simply never ever be more Giles in Buffy's life or the life of all his children.
How more devastating can it be to know that the very same hands that killed Jenny in this brutal way have now killed Giles. Their last moments together are now not only extremely poignant, but just think what it would be like for Buffy to remember his last words of love and praise and support with the knowledge that her own choices played such a huge part in bring them all to this place. There will forever more be the memory and sorrow from knowing things could have been different.

I love your comments about Spike and how he brings in the hope for their future. I just love this character so much and it's because he has such a big heart and capacity to just keep facing life and trying to make it.

Again, excellent review.

Kaaren said...

*Finally* got # 39 tonight. Was not spoiled. I am not sure how to react. I will say my gut reaction was anger and frustration at the storyline. I need to digest, re-read (a little confused/confusing) and think about it before I decide how I really feel.

Martin said...

I really hate that Jeanty is the artist. Even if he draws everyone bobbleheaded, I often can't tell who's who. When Giles was killed, I couldn't tell if it was him, Andrew, or someone else who died.

GlendaQ said...

I have to agree with the most recent commenter. Maybe it's because I'm a comic book (ahem, graphic novel?) virgin, but I had a really hard time distinguishing between many of the characters. The only way I knew it was Giles before the VERY end was how Xander reacted to him. Up until then I couldn't really understand why Faith would have let Andrew take the scythe! I really need to take another look, now that I know who is who in each panel. I really haven't absorbed everything yet.