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(Review) BtVS 8.36 'Last Gleaming' Part 1

5th September 2010 (01:27)

The disadvantage of getting comics two days after everybody else is that by the time you've read it and are ready to write a review, you suspect that everything that might be said about it already has been, and everyone has already moved on. But you know I'm going to do it anyway... I couldn't help but see some of the comments and reactions flying around, but I've done my best not to be influenced by them until now.


We get the famous cover of Spike with brownish eyes that were later changed to blue, over the protests of Jo Chen who argued that depending on the ambient light, his eyes really did look the colour she'd originally painted them. Georges Jeanty and Michelle Madsen, of course, drew them the colour everyone expects them to be since his chosen art style for Season 8 is representational rather than photorealistic.

Angel emerges from some sort of portal in the sky, which if you squint is kind of vaginal in shape and may be symbolic of a rather violent birth. (The whole issue is full of references to birth, hymens being broken, and such-like). He crashes into the poor, much-abused Hollywood sign - I think it was maggie who first spotted that to be specific, he hits the big 'O' in yet another visual pun referring to sex.

His monologue tells us his backstory while being suitably cryptic and vague. He's obviously come from a place where "we lost the war" and Los Angeles was left in ruins as a consequence. Whether his reappearance is due to time travel, or he's come from a parallel dimension, is left unclear. The Power Without Name later assures him that he's now back in his own world again, without answering where he was before.

My own theory is that Joss is hedging his bets here. He apparently came up with all of this storyline several years ago, right down to the detail of Angel hitting the Hollywood sign, before IDW ever published any of their 'After The Fall' comics. My suspicion is, therefore, that when Joss first wrote this his idea was that Angel was returning from the Hell dimension he was sent to after 'Not Fade Away'. But then Joss gave his notes for 'Angel' Season 6 to Brian Lynch, who wrote 'After The Fall' and came up with a different ending to it, and IDW have been publishing more comics about Angel set after he escaped from Hell-A. So rather than just come out and say that the IDW stuff isn't canon, which would be impolitic, Joss is being vague about where Angel has been and what he was doing. "Things got funky for a while."

The talking dog is a little bit bizarre, but fits right into a season that's given us fairy tale creatures. Not to mention that the Buffyverse already contains talking ventriloquist's dummies and plastic talking hamburgers, so a talking dog doesn't exactly strain the credibility even before we get the explanation that it's really a supernatural entity possessing the dog's body. I'm told that the dog is also a homage to 'Lost', but since I never watched 'Lost' I can't really comment on that any further.

Until we get a better identification, I'm going to refer to the entity as the Power Without Name (PWN), since that's what it calls itself. Which means it does have a name now. I've seen criticism that Angel shouldn't be so quick to believe any random talking animal that comes up to him and talks about destiny - but of course he isn't. He's extremely sceptical, cynical and sarcastic and tries to walk away; it's only the incident with the airliner that convinces him that something's going on.

Is the PWN good, evil, or neither - just a powerful entity with its own agenda? The third seems most likely, but I don't think any can be discounted yet. I have to say I did like the dog's sarcasm...

There's a very powerful symbolic moment which is easy to miss. The issue opened with Angel knocking over the 'O' of the Hollywood sign. But as he talks to the dog, without any fuss he's pushing the letter back up into place. Repairing the damage he did. That's not as flashy as him rescuing the airliner full of passengers, but I think it proves that at least at this point in his arc, Angel is fully himself, and a hero.

Son of Sam was the nickname of David Berkowitz, a serial killer who said he was ordered to kill by a demon who possessed his neighbour's dog. As for the part of the dialogue referring to Buffy, it reminded me of another similar conversation Angel once had:

PWN: That goofy little cheerleader really spun you right round, didn't she? What are we gonna do about that?
(B8.36 'Last Gleaming')

Tish Magev: You need to get over her. - Okay, what does she look like?
Angel:  She's beautiful. - Small, blonde...
Tish Magev:  Right.  So here's what you do.  You go out and find yourself some small, blonde thing.  You bed her, you love her, you treat her like crap, you break her heart.  You and your inner demon will thank me, I promise.

(A2.06 'Guise Will Be Guise')

I don't know if it's a deliberate similarity, but if so it's a tick in the "He's secretly evil!" column.

Angel discovering he has superpowers (well, beyond what he had already) is funny, but also in-character when after his initial moment of confusion, his reaction is a determined "Let's see what we've got." This is clearly the moment when he acquired the same abilities we saw Buffy get in 'Retreat' and 'Turbulence' - but since the first use he puts them to is to save the lives of several hundred innocent people, it's quite natural that he'd see them as an unalloyed blessing.

My first thought was to question why Angel didn't need to be pushed down to the same depths as Buffy apparently had to be before acquiring his superpowers: why he didn't need to feel completely bereft and powerless and alone. But then I realised that actually, he did. We saw it in the opening pages: Angel believed that the world had been destroyed, he failed and nothing was left but ruins. Being a stoic kind of guy, his reaction is to brood in the dark and fantasise that he can still see the lights of Los Angeles glimmering in the distance. Was he manipulated into this by the PWN or other mystical entities? Maybe.

The airliner being an Oceanic flight is another 'Lost' reference, although apparently the fictional airline has been used in over a dozen TV shows, comics, games and films whenever the writers didn't want to use a real name. I find myself wondering if the screaming passengers are meant to be drawings of real people as an in-joke, though I didn't recognise them.

The woman hitting on Angel gives us more proof that the PWN can possess any living being it wants. Is it limited to one at once? Who knows... It's not The First, though, since the woman hugging Angel is obviously corporeal. And we get a reference to the shanshu, something that only ever got mentioned on 'Angel' the series and not on 'Buffy' until now, and even a reference (though not by name) to Cordelia the Dragon from 'After The Fall'. Importantly to the plot, these both show Angel that the entity he's talking to has genuine knowledge of his life. He's been given power as a reward for his actions and sacrifices, and he can use this power to help save even more people's lives. I can't see a better way of pushing Angel's buttons, can you?

Now we see another flashback, this time of Spike and his mysterious steampunk spaceship. It's bursting out of another vaguely vaginal-looking rift in the space-time continuum, except this one is purple instead of blue and facing in the opposite direction to Angel's. Spike just has to be contrary. He's also in a classic pose, standing on the outside of his spaceship and yelling exhilarated defiance at his enemies. Where he got the ship, and who the bugs are, seems to be something Brian Lynch is going to write a comic about, so we shouldn't expect further explanation here.

Crashing into Big Ben is, of course, a classic moment in itself (and the fact that Spike's reaction is to shrug and say "On the other hand...funny" is perfect). The moment I was reminded of was from Series 1 of New Who with the Slitheen spaceship, but it's not the first time that poor clock tower has been wrecked by aliens. And Spike then reads the newspaper and is mildly shocked by Buffy being accused of being a terrorist, and hugely shocked by Harmony's new-found fame.

The next page was released a long time ago as a preview and has been much-discussed, but it does give us important insight into the whole "humans see vampires as good and Slayers as bad" thing, as well as more on Angel's motives for becoming Twilight. We see a partial answer to the question of whether the PWN can possess multiple beings at once: either it can, or it can move its consciousness from one to another fast enough to complete its own sentences.

It's not clear whether the parallel panels of Angel getting the Twilight costume and Spike working out what's going on are supposed to be happening more or less simultaneously, flipping from one to the other in sequence, or if Spike's panels are happening long after Angel's. It does seem to reinforce the idea, rejected by quite a lot of fans, that Angel wasn't lying when he said public opinion was already violently anti-Slayer long before he intervened.

The Costume-maker looks quite a lot like the Doll-maker from 'Living Doll', which led Emmie to speculate that he was the secret mastermind behind the whole plot. It seems more likely now that he too was possessed by the Power Without Name... though I have to say I'm reminded of the Chair-maker from Banks's novel 'Use of Weapons', which might be an indication that he really is more than he seems...

It's been said before, but the writer who shows Spike sitting on his bunk researching the Twilight cult online clearly has a better grasp of his complexities than those who think all he's interested in is a brawl, a drink and a pretty girl.... especially given how quick to recognise Angel he is. The cell phone footage of Angel Spike discovers on YouTube comes from Edinburgh - I suspect it was, in fact, taken by a witness to Angel's confrontation with Buffy and Satsu in 'A Beautiful Sunset'.

And finally, back to the Scoobies. That's Dawn hurrying the Slayers onto the spaceship and being all decisive and leader-y; one thing I did notice about these scenes is that even though there wasn't much space to give the ensemble characters space of their own, Joss and Georges did manage to cram in a lot of little revealing character moments in the backgrounds of the panels. Buffy's joke about "outgoing" was funny,and her question "How are the ones on the right?" was a callback to the last issue.

The next bit of dialogue between Buffy and Angel, has, I suspect, already been the cause of more drama than the Complete Works of Shakespeare.  On one level, of course, it can be read as a final, definitive answer to the big love triangle question: Buffy loves Angel, The End.

In fact, she can see herself spending the rest of her life with him... and not because she's still an over-romantic teenager still in "when I kiss you I want to die" mode, but because she  recognises what he did for her: literally gave up heaven and ascension to godhood to be at her side instead. I did like the was her line "I can't pronounce" flashed back to Spike's S6 line about "I can't even spell", but there he was talking about sex, while here it's not the sex Buffy's referring to but the moral actions. (Of course, both of them are glossing over the fact that their actions were the proximate cause of the apocalypse... though I think it's a fair argument that they were merely the tools used to set it in motion unintentionally.)

However, there are alternative readings of the scene. For one thing, none of this is anything we've not heard before. Joss has never seemed like the kind of guy to believe that you can only ever have One True Love, and it's not the first time Buffy has told Angel that she still thinks about settling down with him someday... remember how the Cookie Dough speech actually ended?

"Angel.  I do... sometimes think that far ahead."
"Sometimes is something."
"Be a long time coming. Years, if ever."
"I ain't getting any older."

But while Buffy held out a crumb of cookie dough to Angel (and Bangels) there, it was also a brush-off. And the fact is, she's doing exactly the same here. Angel spots it and calls her on it, in fact. ("Quit with the psychic, you.") Was she being so effusive about what a wonderful, bestest day of her life she just had to soften the blow that she's about to give him when she tells him to leave? It seems more than likely to me. Not that I think she's making up her feelings: she does say "he'd better" come back soon, after all. But that could simply be to make it more tragic when Joss kills Angel in issue 8.39. :-)

There's also the possibility that Buffy (and Angel) are not entirely in their right minds here, because a lingering influence from 8.34 remains. According to Scott Allie in Emmie's interview with him, talking about the infamous "glow": "It worked like a drug, clouding your judgment, but you’re still you. You should not abandon responsibility for your actions". A thought struck me after reading that: fandom seems to have settled on "the Universe" as the way to describe the force that drove Buffy and Angel's actions in 'Twilight' (when it's not calling it 'Glowhypnol'), but the word used just as often in the actual issue is 'evolution'.

Now, saying "the universe made us have sex!" sounds ridiculous... but saying "The force of evolution made us have sex!" is actually, a pretty good description of what does in fact happen often. How many of the people reading this have ever met someone they liked, got carried away with lust and hormones (and maybe a little too much to drink), and slept with them... only to realise, in the cold light of morning, that it was probably a mistake? But if we didn't have those feelings and urges, then life on Earth would never have evolved past the amoeba stage. And since the Universe's plan is replete with metaphors of birth and reproduction, thinking of the Glow as being a typically-Buffyverse supernatural externalisation of the power of uncontrolled hormonally-inspired lust seems pretty apt. And judging by her slightly crazed smile in some of these panels, Buffy is still feeling its effects.

On a different note, Willow getting revenge on Angel by briefly turning him into a frog was both funny, and a clear sign that you Don't Mess With Willow. She's come a long way from the girl who told Cordelia to "DELiver" her computer assignment, but some things never change. She's threatened to turn people into things before (Renee into a baby goat, notably) but this is our first proof that she wasn't kidding about being able to do it.

It's also significant that Angel says that Spike "has an agenda" in an attempt to discredit him, while the image shows Spike ushering an angry-looking group of Buffy's friends to safety. That's his agenda, hmm?

Buffy telling Angel that he needs to go and save the remaining Slayers as much for his own benefit as hers was suprisingly insightful and mature of her. It probably won't clear him in the eyes of people who've made up their minds he's now irredeemably evil, of course, but Joss has never done irredeemable. (And I did like Buffy's world-weary "Well, everyone else has".)

Back in the Spikemobile, and there's another of those little character moments I mentioned, where Dawn is freaking out about the giant bugs and Xander is being all protective and comforting. Meanwhile Faith is feeling understandably angry and betrayed by Angel, and Satsu's expression could melt a hole in a steel door.

This probably wasn't the first meeting between Buffy and Spike after 'Chosen' that most people had anticipated. Which of course is probably why Joss did it like this... While I can understand the disappointment people must feel who hoped there'd be more romance, I have to say that it all felt perfectly in character as a Buffy-Spike moment. Anger, sarcasm, counting things off on your fingers, making sly digs about Angel, and despite it all, Buffy instantly believing Spike and trusting him to tell her the truth. Yes, to me, that's how these two interact.

And it's typical Spike to turn a standard phrase about "comes with the package" into a sexual innuendo just by adding the word "sizable". I can imagine certain people reading that and saying "See! See!! I'm right after all!!" :-)

Oh, and apparently Buffy did know he was alive, but didn't get in touch because "I'm somehow leading an army", which meant she was too busy. We can choose whether or not to take that at face value or whether she had other motives for not doing so, or indeed when she found out about him. Remember, too, that Spike has apparently been away in some giant bug-filled dimension for who knows how long.

Spike gives us more plot exposition about the new universe Buffy and Angel created but then abandoned, and how that might not have been a wonderful idea after all. And then we get the big revelation about the "Seed of Wonder", whatever that is (other than being the glowing red thing we saw in 'Anywhere But Here', of course), the fact that it's in Sunnydale...and what must surely be the final surprise reappearance of the season: the Master's back. Incidentally, kudos to the writer for remembering that Spike would say "mummy" not "mommy". :-)

No, we don't know yet how he survived. It's possible that a Chameleon Arch was involved, though that might be a different Master. :-) I'm sure we'll find out - or indeed, whether this is the same Master or an alternate dimension or re-created version of him.

While Spike is making his "This is your Captain speaking" announcement over the intercom, we get our final tableau of character moments. Warren and Amy kissing while the General holds his hat over his mouth to try and keep from throwing up is probably the most vivid of these... Andrew appears to have recovered from his injuries and is the only person who actually seems cheerful. Leah and Rowena are there in the background, and it's great to see they've survived everything and are there for the finale.

But most interestingly, there's Buffy, looking distinctly unhappy and uncomfortable and hugging her chest tightly. Willow is acting all worried and giving her a comforting squeeze on the shoulder, which is proof that she's forgiven Buffy (or at least, her concern for her friend has overridden her anger with her) even if she's still feeling vindictive toward Angel. It seemed to me that it was when Spike told her about the universe "ditched at birth" that might come "looking for mummy" that she started reacting like this - in other words, it was when her culpability for the current mess really first hit her.

So what happens now, with four more issues to go? I've got a theory (no bunnies are involved) but it can wait for a separate post...



Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 01:11 (UTC)

And here it is! As always very good. #36 seems to have sparked a cottge industry of meta and review. I haven't seen so much comic-related meta/review on LJ since the spring of 2007. I'll be interested to hear what you think as you wade through it all.

I think the PWN is clearly a Joss self-insert. It's complicated him being housed in an animal -- i.e. this is a story with a complicated layer of self-awareness.

Angel enters from the left (sinister); Spike from the right.

Excellent point about all the birth images. I hadn't connected it to the entrances.

Interesting comparison to Guise will be Guise. I think it is most likely that PWN is a sinister force. Angel's powers are sold to him as a reward for what he's done. That's stroking the sizeable Angel ego. A more straight-up ploy would be to say here's the sitch -- you've got the powers because you need them. In any case, Angel's told a reason for getting powers that doesn't match the mode decided on whereby to get Buffy her powers. And finally there's just the result. PWN plays a key role in getting Angel to play the role that leads to #34 and the end of the world. It's either an incompetent PWN or a malevolent one.

Oh, and Spike arrives, later. Clearly. He lands and the world is upside down. That happens after #21. Twilight's been in business for a while. Spike gets no welcome committee -- which means whatever pulled him in is not likely the same force that pulled in Angel. And we have the visuals of opposed agendas. Something bad was afoot, and so some other power pulled in Spike. Seems to me like the most natural read. But we'll see about all of that.

The released preview page is clearly NOT parallel in time. Again, the world upside down happens after Angel dons the mask. You and I seem to have a different understanding about #21. I thought that was clearly the moment the world went upside down in a public way. Twilight was well underway by then. And the vampire groupie who talks to Spike already knows about the men in the church from LWH.

Because I see multiple powers involved, I don't think there's an inanimate universal force involved -- though I suppose there could be one that is being manipulated and/or used by the conscious powers that are up to something with all this. My own theory is that Angel got tapped because he could most easily tempt Buffy into the act that destroyed the world.

Thanks for mentioning the sizable package! I think it's proof positive that it's true. Spike wouldn't mention it if he knew Buffy's recent experience had given her knowledge about more sizeable packages! It's now very established text. :P.

I'm excited about the Master's appearance.

And I very much look forward to your theories about what's to come.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 02:16 (UTC)

I definitely think the PWN is manipulating Angel for its own ends. That doesn't necessarily mean it's Evil with a capital 'E', however - the Powers That Be aren't exactly loving and benevolent even when they're more or less on humanity's side. It would be entirely in keeping with the theme of the season if they were happy to sacrifice a few billion humans if they thought the new world to be created would be better overall, and they saw themselves as acting in the long-term best interests of the species.

Angel's told a reason for getting powers that doesn't match the mode decided on whereby to get Buffy her powers

I don't really agree; as I said in the review, Angel at the start of the issue really has lost his home, all his friends, and his war. He's defeated and alone and thinks the entire world has been reduced to ruins. He's just more philosophical about it, because he's the type to brood in the dark rather than get all emotional and sob openly.

I don't think Spike was pulled in by any Powers. He came under his own volition, because he's the kind of guy who shows up to wreck other people's careful plans. Or his own careful plans, sometimes, because he was too impatient to follow them. :-) and yes, I think the Universe and the Twilight prophecy is a force of nature which other parties are trying to control and exploit for their own purposes, rather than being entirely originated by them. It's a fight to see who will control the new universe that's going to be created.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 02:27 (UTC)

Your description of the PtB just *is* Evil with a capital E. If destroying the world isn't evil, then you've evacuated the word of any content.

My point about Angel isn't that you're wrong about how he got his powers. It's that it's NOT what PWN told him. PWN told him it was a reward. Your explanation presumes it's the same mechanism that (supposedly) got Buffy her powers -- powerlessness and defeat.

Spike couldn't have come under his own volition. They were being chased by wankers and were suprised when the wankers disappeared.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 02:54 (UTC)

Not destroying the world - making a better world with some unfortunate, you know, 'collateral damage' along the way.

Point taken that the story Angel gets told about Buffy is different to what happened to him even if what actually happened is the same. But then again, doesn't he also imply that her powers are a reward, just like his?

I got the impression the people chasing Spike were just some random enemy from a previous episode, not anything relevant to the plot of this one. Maybe he and his crew stole that ship they're in?

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 03:13 (UTC)

And again I say, what content does the word 'evil' have if murdering 6 billion human beings can count as not evil. I'm never a consequentialist but at some point even consequentialists have to get embarrassed. What do you care if your destruction opens the way for some 'better' human. You've still been murdered. Is it OK to kill 6 billion people to replace them with 6 billion people who are one smile happier than the 6 billion people who got killed to make way for them?

Are we at cross purposes on Spike? You said he came in by his own powers. I say he obviously was surprised at being in a world without wankers. I conclude he didn't expect to go through a dimension, and therefore did not come here by his own powers. Someone opened up that dimension for him so he could be here. I'm confused by what you're trying to say.

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 13:07 (UTC)

The thing is, I think the PTB (or PTSY as Fred calls them) don't really care that much about individual humans or even perhaps individual worlds except so far as they affect the greater cosmic balance.

Not so much evil as unconcerned about things that are important from a human viewpoint, but not from the viewpoint of the PTB.

Think of a homebuilder focused on building a new house. And not likely to care that much about the various organisms who used to live in or near the topsoil there.

(The PTB remind me a lot of the Watcher's Council writ very large.)

Although in another way, letting a world be destroyed in order to build a newer "better" one is what Angel did with Connor on a much larger scale.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 14:34 (UTC)

Starting with your last, I totally agree -- and I've thought that was an evil choice. I've never understood why people construct that as Angel 'saving' Connor. He replaced Connor.

For me your argument about 'higher' beings who could look at persons (any being capable of rational thought and possessing free will) like ants and who therefore cannot be judged to be evil when they exterminate billions of them boils down exactly to saying that the word 'evil' has no content. But this just is a debate about moral frameworks -- and the point I was trying to make to Stormwreath is that you can only call the PtB's not evil if you are employing a moral framework that I categorically reject. You and Stormwreath can view the PtB's as neutral and therefore Angel's choice to cooperate with them in exterminating the 'ants' as neutral or even good if you like. I'm just saying he can't use his framework to tell me that I have to see Angel's actions as morally neutral or good.

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 20:56 (UTC)

Looking at it one way Angel is saving Connor. Looking at it another way Angel is replacing him. Depends on how you view identity (a topic that Joss seems to like to explore).

"Capable of rational thought" and "possessing free will" are continua not binary yes/no concepts. The ants I mentioned have both to a certain extent. And most mammals and birds have both to a larger extent. We may look a lot like pigeons to the PtB. And if killing a few (or a lot) of pigeons was a side effect of saving humanity I don't think very many humans would hesitate.

(I will note that the PtB's sound pretty much like any supposedly benevolent gods that I've ever heard of. "Higher Cosmic Purpose" (or things that ultimately reduce to it) is pretty much the standard theological reasoning for squaring the actual situation of the world with the stated general benevolence of the deity(s) in question.)

As far as Angel's actions are concerned. Suppose Angel is right. Suppose creating the new universe is actually the best possible outcome of the situation. Sometimes the only available choices are ALL bad in some important way.

I don't expect this to happen because it doesn't feel like a Joss sort of story. Plus this is BtVS. When it comes to these sorts of scenarios, BtVS tends to be about finding clever end-runs around apparent no-win situations.

But, for example, it would be entirely appropriate for Angel to be right(and arguably even too optimistic) if this was a Cthluhu Mythos story.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 21:10 (UTC)

what content does the word 'evil' have if murdering 6 billion human beings can count as not evil.

According to the Bible, the Jewish/Christian/Muslim God sent a flood to wipe out all of humanity except for one family in order to start again and do it better next time. Presumably by your moral framework that God is utterly evil; but there are billions of people in the world who'd disagree with you on that... and that's basically the scenario we have here. Buffy and Angel are Noah and his wife.

Someone opened up that dimension for him so he could be here.

That's not how I read it, no. I think that ship can travel through dimensions under its own power. But it was in a battle, and running away from a more powerful enemy, and either got damaged or simply got lost and went off course, and ended up somewhere over London.

Posted by: ubi4soft (ubi4soft)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 01:50 (UTC)

Been waiting for your review (kinda disappointed you didn't mentioned the bugs, I love the bugs).

Still not very happy that Buffy was spiked with the glow and then carried away to the "bestest, weirdest day" of her life when she was able to finally spill "Buffy loves Angel. The End", but thanks for the honest reading.

About those birth/portal images, I had an idea sometime ago that the whole Buffy S8 world is affected by a global spell, especially regarding humanity to be against slayers and pro-vampires, so the portals Angel and Spike come through would be the visually explanation of that. Don't know what the different colors mean.

And sizable package comes with the rescue ship, but thanks for saying it.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 02:21 (UTC)

I mentioned Dawn being afraid of the bugs! :-)

Also, "Buffy loves Angel. The End" isn't my reading. It's part of my reading, but only the surface part. Yes, I think she loves him; always has, always will... (See also 'I Will Remember You', 'Forever', 'End of Days/Chosen', even her possessiveness and jealousy of Faith in 'Sanctuary') but that's not the full story. (And it doesn't mean she can't love other people just as much or more.)

Don't know what the different colors mean.

Blue for a boy, lavender for someone more ambiguous? ;-)


Posted by: ubi4soft (ubi4soft)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 02:41 (UTC)

re: bugs

Spike suggested colored jumpsuits but the bugs preferred to be identified by numbers contrasted with Angel being made famous (singled out) with the appropriate outfit by a talking dog?

We've lost the wankers your majesty - can't stop laughing at it.

Posted by: rapunzel215 (rapunzel215)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 11:34 (UTC)

Jumpers, not jumpsuits. "Jumper" is Brit-speak for sweater..

Posted by: Lexi (eilowyn)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 02:48 (UTC)

I don't think "Buffy Loves Angel. The End." is what's going to happen, either, but that may be from reading your carefully constructed prediction just now and kinda liking it. I'm leaning towards Emmie's more positive view, though the sickening fanservice apparently given to Bangel fans (have yet to read actual issue, so take my thoughts with that caveat in mind) on the surface text makes my stomach roil and skin crawl. I want to send Scott Allie a big sign that says DON'T FEED THE BANGELS mostly because their concept of romance cheapens the entire Buffyverse (see: the bestest day ever crap) and turns it into something with the lack of nuance of a Twilight/Bella and Edward sensibility.

One conclusion that could be made from this issue is that Spike is the true hero; Angel the fool. I see outside manipulation written all over the scenes between Buffy and Angel, and can't believe their characterization could be so off without it being a plot point. I may just be under Emmie's influence, but I tend to agree with her on most things comic-wise.

One last thought, on the Buffy/Spike reunion: this is one more instance where I think Joss' arrogance in saying he gives the fandom what it "needs" instead of what it "wants": a significant portion of the fandom did NEED to see some sort of emotional resonance between Buffy and Spike in their supposed reunion scene, regardless of being in the middle of a battle. If Buffy has time to stroke Angel's poor widdle ego by saying it's the bestest day ever (one of the indicators she's either written by a hack or characterization issues are a plot point and there for a reason), she damn well has enough time for the one guy who stood by her when her friends kicked her out, who she last saw dying for her and her cause.

And of course Andrew looks happy! SPIKE'S BACK! And this is the one of few reasons this issue shouldn't be recycled for toilet paper, if the surface reading is to believed.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 03:02 (UTC)

I think Emmie and I agree on Buffy being written out of character deliberately; but while she puts the emphasis on the glow affecting Buffy's brain, I tend to think she's being deliberately over the top - in order, as you say, to stroke Angel's ego before she sends him packing. (Though I think she genuinely admires what he did in giving up Twilight for her, and I do agree the glow is affecting her to some degree.)

As for Spike, though - I think Buffy stroking Spike's ego would definitely be out of character. For one thing, it's big enough already without more stroking to make it larger. ;-) And like in 'End of Days', Buffy ends up snarking at him even when she's genuinely moved and grateful for what he's done for her. It's just how the two of them relate.

Definitely agree that Angel's being manipulated, but Spike is crashing in from outside all unexpected to shake things up. And I like your thoughts on why Andrew's so happy. :-)

Posted by: Liliaeth (liliaeth)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 12:19 (UTC)

Thing is, unlike Angel, Spike does not have a big ego. He plays nice at the bravado, but unlike Angel, he doesn't tend to think that he's the center of the universe.

Which is why I generally can't stand it when Angel already gigantic ego gets fed even more, and I want, no need to see people telling Spike he did something right and/or good, because he rarely if ever gets even the slightest hint of approval from anyone.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 05:12 (UTC)

So are you saying that Angel has been PWNed? :-)

I liked this issue mostly, and I think Buffy and Angel are both getting back on the right track, although Buffy's "bestest day" comment probably made me want to smack her upside the head more than I ever have before in the history of the Buffyverse. Girl needs her priorities set straight.

It's interesting that Willow seems to be the character most angry with Angel, considering that she was always the most Angel-friendly Scooby apart from Buffy herself. Restored his soul to him twice (and probably wondering why she bothered); went to L.A. to break the news in person when Buffy died; called him with the news when she came back. I think she feels more than a little personal betrayal.

As for the Powers, I think that they are concerned with Balance... not with Good. In D&D terms I'd say they're Lawful Neutral. Whistler is a Balance demon, and he's working for them. This means that if Angel considers himself a Champion of good but he takes his assignments from the Powers, he's going to run into trouble.

Spike, it must be said, took one hell of a risk coming through that portal on the outside of his TARDIS, during a London summer which would give him a roughly 18-in-24 chance of bursting into flame upon arrival.

The fact that Amy and Warren were dug up from the ruins of Sunnydale makes me suspect they are working for the Master.

I love the scene of Leah and Rowena huddled unhappily together on Spike's ship... my favorite depiction of them yet, and please don't kill them Joss. As for Satsu... I use this icon in mourning for any chance of a Batsu rekindling, the chances of which must now be deader than Dead Dan McDead, winner of this year's Deadest Man Competition.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 14:37 (UTC)

How are you guys seeing Spike as having chosen to come through that portal? I totally thought he was in the middle of a battle with the wankers and that he and bug one (or was it bug three?) were surprised to learn that they were somewhere else.*

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 15:30 (UTC)

That's certainly possible, although it seems odd that a random portal would deposit them right over London.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 17:01 (UTC)

The way it was odd that a random portal deposited Angel over the Hollywood sign? I think they both got pulled in -- though since Angel got a welcome wagon, I'm guessing they got pulled in by different agencies.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 21:20 (UTC)

*groan* at the PWNed thing. :-)

Buffy's "bestest day" comment probably made me want to smack her upside the head

Because she already told Satsu that that was the best night of her life; the one with her? ;-)

I don't think Spike knew he was going to end up in London, or even on Earth. The spaceship was badly off course...

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 6th September 2010 02:14 (UTC)

Because she already told Satsu that that was the best night of her life; the one with her? ;-)

Partly, but only secondarily. (Though I'm glad Satsu wasn't there to hear that conversation.)

The fact that she regards the day she boffed the killer of 200 of her Slayers, and in so doing brought about hell on earth and killed off who knows how many people, and counting... as the bestest day of her life.

I know there's a group that believes she was simply buttering Angel up to get him to agree to go away, as one might smilingly humor a dangerous lunatic... but I have my doubts.

If Satsu is still in love with Buffy after all this, I have to say that a) it really must be True Love, and b) I'm a little concerned for her sense of self-respect.

I wonder how the Slayers in general feel about their Great Leader right now, in fact. Judging by the looks on their faces, perhaps not too highly. A mutiny right now wouldn't surprise me at all, and Satsu and Kennedy would be the logical choices to take over.

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 09:21 (UTC)

"Crashing into Big Ben is, of course, a classic moment in itself (and the fact that Spike's reaction is to shrug and say "On the other hand...funny" is perfect). The moment I was reminded of was from Series 1 of New Who with the Slitheen spaceship,"

Exactly, and imo It would have fitted in better in that in in an 'episode' of Buffy, where I found It out of place and utterly stupid in the extreme.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 21:23 (UTC)

I found it no more "utterly stupid" than most of the things that happened on the 'Buffy' and 'Angel' TV shows. Do you remember how the sun was totally blotted out over Los Angeles for weeks and nobody outside the city apparently even noticed?

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 5th September 2010 21:32 (UTC)

Yes I do. and It was clearly done by traditional magic that fitted in beautifully in with the verse, and not hoards of Dr Who rejects whizzing around the place. *g*

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 6th September 2010 12:18 (UTC)

Because it's SUCH a departure for Joss to include little homages in his work...

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 6th September 2010 12:33 (UTC)

But such stonkingly OTT ones like that? Maybe, but then maybe Whedons writing really has deteriorated a lot more then I thought.

Edited at 2010-09-06 12:34 (UTC)

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 6th September 2010 22:16 (UTC)


I was fine with it. Tastes differ.

Posted by: William B (local_max)
Posted at: 6th September 2010 05:15 (UTC)

Excellent review! I particularly like your point about Angel getting his powers (maybe?) at his lowest ebb after a major loss--of the war in L.A. Very cool.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th September 2010 13:39 (UTC)

Thanks! That point about Angel was something I only got myself on a second read-through, but it does fit.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 7th September 2010 01:25 (UTC)

>>Crashing into Big Ben is, of course, a classic moment in itself

I took it more for a reference to knocking off the Welcome to Sunnydale sign , really. But I never saw that epi of Dr Who, so I am flying blind here.

Also, do you think one should be absolutely 100% sure that destroying the BigB - the trademark of London will absolutely cause no casualties, for certain, like 100% certain? Are not there always tons of tourists around ?Should one be so cool about doing it?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th September 2010 01:53 (UTC)

I'm sure it was a reference to the Sunnydale sign too. It's just that I recently watched the Doctor Who episode where an alien spaceship crashes into the clock tower in a similar way - and in fact, alien invaders of London are always blowing it up or crashing into it, because it's so distinctive.

Take a look at this if you don't believe me, especially from 2.57 onwards:


And no, if we're going to take it seriously instead of as a joke there isn't a 100% guarantee there'd be no casualties, but honestly the risk is fairly low. The tower is right next to the river, and members of the public aren't allowed on the terrace or embankment there (let alone inside the tower), and any debris from knocking the top off the tower at the angle Spike's ship was flying would fall either onto the terrace or straight into the river.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 7th September 2010 02:33 (UTC)

Ok, I take your word for it, but I was a bit put off by Spike sitting calmly in the cafe taking his drink of whatever while people outside were pointing at the burning tower. I think if anybody crashed into the Washington monument at that hour ( between 7 and 9 pm) they could have killed a dozen at the least.

Posted by: ladydorotea (ladydorotea)
Posted at: 7th September 2010 02:46 (UTC)

Also, on the whole reset issue I don't think any provisions for Joss thinking about the plot many years ago are needed:

"I want to clarify my opinion of the events that are taking place there. Firstly it is fun to find out that Joss' view of fame and celebrity status resulted in Angel crashing through the HOLLYWOOD sign scene. Not only this image is seriously funny - it also confirms Joss's close involvement with the AtF plot and once again establishes it as canon. Secondly, I want to re-iterate my opinion that these scenes link Angel's ascension with Buffy's in Retreat ( see the last panels of issue 30) . It appears that Angel was snatched by the PtBs at the moment of his greatest defeat - after losing the war ( I assume with W&H and allied demons - we should read the IDW Angel series to learn more) and seeing the world crumble into ruins . But the 'reset switch' was hit once again and that time line and all of the events associated with it were swallowed by the Powers - so the world was reset 'back the way it meant to be' - and it is the 'true' Buffyverse , hence 'relax it is yours' from the dog. No time travel was apparently involved , so there is no extra copy of Angel running about - but he is the only one who remembers all that happened the first time, exactly the way it was done in 'I will remember you' episode. The Oracles were able to swallow one day for a few people involved. W&H swallowed what looked like months of time - for one city. PtB's are visibly capable of resetting the entire world with all the people and the demons living in it - but I am not sure even they are allowed to do so more than once. By the way, this fact ( the world being reset) might explain sudden upsurge in numbers and variety of magical creatures - the world was restored but maybe not exactly to the same status as before - maybe they overdone it a bit? Joss probably knows better how his world should operate , so I will leave it to him. It makes sense that Angel gained his superpowers as a gift by living through that defeat - probably the lowest low point in his long life. It also makes sense that the PtBs want him to place Buffy in the same position - hit the lowest of the low point by being pushed to the limit: losing the Slayer powers and losing the war. Why test our heroes so? Well, they are the ones who would be giving birth to the new baby Universe. Selective evolution ? Perhaps Joss has even weirder sense of humor than Darwin. Which brings about the question - why would the Powers bother restoring the world to the way it meant to be - and probably lose a lot of real estate in that transaction - and then proceed with the plan that ultimately ends in ditching the abovementioned world and replacing it with the new 'baby Universe'. Also, if the Powers 'are' the Universe - and Giles at least seems to think so - won't they be destroying themselves in process? Or at least reinventing themselves? And for those who still insist it is not the Powers I point out that Whistler in Riley one shot was the real original Whistler, the balance demon, ( which was confirmed by Scott Allie), and he spoke on behalf of the real PtBs. My speculation is that the world was never meant to be destroyed. That since PtBs can have glimpses of the future they actually relied on Buffy wanting to return and saving the original world. As for what happens to the baby Universe - I suppose we are about to see soon - and I hope it will all make sense in the end. "

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