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(Review) In Space, No One Can Hear You Slay

7th May 2012 (01:11)

I know I'm horribly behind on writing comic reviews; but the Free Comic Book day 'Buffy' comic is only eight pages long, so I think I can manage that one. :)

As this is a stand-alone, it's not entirely clear where it fits into the season, other than Buffy says it's the first time she's taken time off from the coffee shop in three months. There's no sign of her being pregnant, robotic, one-armed, or anything else like that, so I'm going to assume it's prior to the 'Apart (Of Me)' arc. 

The premise is simple enough: Spike has persuaded Buffy to take a long weekend break and come away with him in his spaceship, to see the sights. Things go wrong, as usual. The fact that the issue title is a riff off the 'Alien' catchphrase is a pretty big give-away as to the type of trouble. I also means I can use this banner without giving away any other spoilers. :)

Buffy banner


So, Buffy is hiding in the spaceship locker in much the same way Ripley did at the end of the said film. Those definitely look like human spacesuits, not bug ones; that's considerate of the crew. I'm sure there's an in-universe reason for Buffy being in her underwear, like she was getting changed or about to have a shower or something when the monster was spotted; but I'm pretty sure the real reason she's drawn like that is to match what Sigourney Weaver was wearing in that scene.

Meanwhile, Spike's attitude talking to the crew seems quite harsh considering one of them just died; then again, the bugs don't seem overly concerned either. Maybe they have less of a sense of individuality than humans; they didn't have names until Spike gae them some, after all.

Poor Irene. Who is apparently male. :)

Buffy goes to her suitcase - she cetainly packed a lot of stuff for just a long weekend. Since we next see her she'd fully dressed, I assume this is when she changed. Sadly, the bugs think of wood as a tasty snack, so she is stakeless. 

Also, the bugs apparently think nothing of going through her bags and taking stuff from there.

Buffy's suitcase is in Spike's room. Hmmmm. So is there only one human-compatible stateroom on board this spaceship snd they're forced by circumstance to sleep in the same room; or is it by choice? Interesting. :)

I'm sure the spaceship wasn't this dark, cramped, creepy, dirty and steam-filled before it suddenly found itself playing host to an 'Alien' homage...

The dismayed body language of the bugs when they learn Spike carries insecticide on the ship is amusing, especially given that their emotions are visible only through hand getures, not facial expressions. I also liked his asking them when they learned to spell; and the substitution of 'little grubs' room' for 'little boys' room'.

After the 'Alien' homages, a 'Jaws' homage - and for that matter, a callback to the 'Buffy' movie. Though Buffy needs her memory joged about using an aerosol as a flamethrower. Maybe the traumatic experience of her appearance mutating from looking like Kristie Swanson to looking like Sarah Michelle Gellar caused Buffy to lose her memory of how she dealt with Lothos?

I laughed at the "on its tail... and the rest of its body parts" joke. The alien bug shedding its skin as it grows is another 'Alien' call-back, of course.

Aww. Spike is upset and angry at Colin's death, and tells Buffy to avenge him. Buffy, meanwhile, is being snuck up on by the monster; she reacts as you'd expect when she notices: a moment of shock followed by instant violent action. Not your typical horror movie protagonist, our Buff.

I was confused by the teeny aerosol flamethrower apparently melting a big hole in the deck. What are the decks made of, polystyrene painted to look like steel? Then I decided that maybe the injured bug started bleeding molecular acid blood onto the deck, and that's what created the hole.

Buffy jumps through the hole, as she does, but discovers that Irene is a lot less injured than we'd though, and now he's angry.
At this point all subtlety of homage is lost and we see that yep, Irene turned into a full-blown 100% Xenomorph. Complete with teeth in its tongue. 

Buffy manages to hold it at a safe distance with her feet... now when I wrote this exact same confrontation in my own fic, I had her rip the Xenomorph's tongue out with her bare hands; here, Andrew Chambliss comes up with a less brute-force solution.

Apparently Buffy's off-the-cuff comment about the Alien's appearance that she "Thought *Spike* looked bad in bumpy-face" has caused some fans to conclude that she has never loved Spike, because if she did, she wouldn't mind his appearance. I'm not so convinced: even in the famous scene in 'What's My Line' when she doesn't notice Angel is in vamp-face and kisses him, the point is that she didn't notice he'd vamped out, not that she thought he looked attractive that way. She was prepared to look beyond the surface appearance, to see the man behind the monster. It wasn't the monster that attracted her. I'm pretty sure she can do that with Spike as well. :)

It's also not such a random comment if we remember that despite the 'Alien' homage being done here, Irene is still actually a bug turned into a vampire. As such, the Xenomorph look is nothing more or less than the bug-vampire equivalent of a human-vampire's game face.

Today's lesson: bugs being turned is a bad thing. :)

Buffy realises what the name of the room, Solarium, must actually mean; and presses a big red button in yet another homage to Ripley disposing of a Xenomorph. Becaue as I just pointed out, Irene is stil a vampire of sorts, which means the sun is fatal to her.
Or any sun, apparently. Luckily, it seems that Pylea's sun being non-fatal to vampires is an aberration. Unless that sun is actually Sol, and they've just gone closer to it. :)

And Buffy gets to enjoy some sight-seeing after all. (And let's face it, a holiday with no slaying involved at all seems like it would get boring for her after a while...)


Comments

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 08:52 (UTC)

Hello! Long time no see!

I was wondering if you'd let down doing the reviews but I can see you're still "fidèle au poste" (No, fiddle at the post it's not! Sorry I'm just in a silly mood)

About the off the cuff comment, the conclusion some fans drew is IMO more complex and larger than that. Taken into isolation, it doesn't mean much, but it comes with a series of remarks and other off the cuff comments (and what's interesting here is that they are off the cuff, they don't stem from anger) that show, I think, that, beneath a layer of acceptance Buffy's view of Spike is still conflicted. I was thinking lately how their "relationship", from Buffy's side, is playing with call backs to the thematics of season 6 (though it's different). With Angel she was prepared to see the man before the monster; with Spike... You arrived yourself to a similar conclusion in one of your last reviews. For my part, I don't care much about the romantic relationship but I miss the "I believe in you, Spike. You can be a good man and you are" Buffy

Alien (n°1): the only film I spent more time looking at my shoes than at the screen. :-D

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 15:46 (UTC)

Hi! (and ditto.)

How did you know I'm still fiddling with my-- oh wait, I see what you mean. :) (I assume 'le poste' means post in the sense of a military assignment or sentry position, here?)

I certainly agree that Buffy's feelings about Spike are conflicted: but her sarcastic remarks about him (and his about her) seem now to be sliding into a well-worn groove. There's no rancour in them, it's just the way they've both become accustomed to behave. Showy declarations of love haven't been Buffy's style since Season 3, but that doesn't mean she's unable to love.

The fact that she trusts and believes in Spike is instead shown by her actions - such as him being the person she goes to for support when she thinks she's pregnant.


Alien (n°1): the only film I spent more time looking at my shoes than at the screen.

But that would mean you heard all the sound effects without knowing what was causing them...

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 18:38 (UTC)

"How did you know I'm still fiddling with my--" Tsk tsk, gives you a bona fide gilesian look of disaproval. :-)

"I assume 'le poste' means post in the sense of a military assignment or sentry position, here?" Yes it does.

Posted by: Kiki May (kikimay)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 10:20 (UTC)

Lovely review.

even in the famous scene in 'What's My Line' when she doesn't notice Angel is in vamp-face and kisses him, the point is that she didn't notice he'd vamped out, not that she thought he looked attractive that way. She was prepared to look beyond the surface appearance, to see the man behind the monster. It wasn't the monster that attracted her. I'm pretty sure she can do that with Spike as well.
WORD, WORD, WORD!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 15:47 (UTC)

Thanks! And glad you agree. :)

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 15:12 (UTC)

There's no sign of her being pregnant, robotic, one-armed, or anything else like that, so I'm going to assume it's prior to the 'Apart (Of Me)' arc.

I think it's after #4 and before #5. I doubt that Buffy would take this vacation after learning she's pregnant. It seems that the first thing she did when she learnt she's pregnant was to call Dawn and tell her. I don't think she met Spike until the scene where she told him about the abortion.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 15:52 (UTC)

That makes a lot of sense. They talk about zompires, so it has to be after the start of Season 9. On the other hand, there isn't much of a time window, since presumably at most five or six weeks could have gone by between Buffy's body being substituted for a robot, and her thinking she was pregnant.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 20:58 (UTC)

Since I'm the one who has jumped to that conclusion about Buffy's feelings, let me try to explain myself.

I do see a contrast between Buffy choosing to look past Angel's bumpy face, and dwelling on Spike's as she has been doing throughout the comics. Were this a one-off comment, I'd have not made much of it. But it does seem like it's a theme.

#1. Don't show your lumpies, the roomies are not in the know.
#7. They look at me the way people look at you when you're all bumpy.

(Those are specifically about the ugliness of his lumpiness.)

Others about his vampiric nature in general

#40. Not invited in. (Humans don't suffer from that liability; Buffy makes much of it).
#1. Stalky the clown.
#7. If I wanted normal I'd be running from you; I expect we'd end up in a craphole like your bugship.
#8. Say something stupid, needy or creepy.

In addition there have been multiple derogatory comments about the bugs.

That's off the top of my head. I'm sure she has feelings for the guy. But instead of choosing to look past the vampirism and the bug ship, Buffy dwells on it.

And I don't know what sort of spoiler-phobe you are, but there's more in #9, and the PR about the new Spike mini are all consistent with the basic theme that Buffy sees Spike's vampirism as a liability and that will be the decisive reason why they end up not being together.

From which I draw the conclusion that she's not in love with the guy. People who are in love at least look past the draw backs, if not come to see them in an affectionate light.

Maybe the break-up issue (#10) will prove surprising on all of this. But that's just how things add up to me for now.


Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th May 2012 23:47 (UTC)

The impression I get is that Buffy's stuck in a groove. (Wow, that's an antique metaphor. Vinyl records...) It used to be that she and Spike snarked at each other constantly, traded insults and actual physical blows - but when they needed each other, they were always there.

Now in S9 after two years apart, and not to mention her not being exactly on top of her game right now, Buffy's slipped back into the old routine. She hasn't noticed that Spike has changed, and he's not trading insults back. Even Willow has noticed that Buffy is being unfairly harsh to Spike.

Maybe even, as your examples suggest, she's dwelling on his vampireness even more now than usual.

Why would she do that? Well, she's feeling pretty worthless right now. She screwed up badly last season and destroyed people's lives. She doesn't deserve happiness. So she has to sabotage any chance of a decent relationship she may be offered. Sound reasonable?

And even so, when she's facing ultimate disaster, or when she's thinking about who she might want to spend the rest of her life with, who does she turn to?

In short, I think Buffy's feelings for Spike are far too complex to be dismissed with either "She's in love" or "She's not in love". Which is good, because otherwise there'd be no story here. :)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 8th May 2012 03:43 (UTC)

Doh! I hate the thought that stuck in a groove is now an antique metaphor. I'm antique enough to have had a truckload of those things back in the day.

We basically agree about this, I think. I certainly think Buffy has strong feelings for Spike. She's just not about to own them or act on them in any uncomplicated way. When I say Buffy's "not in love" I mostly just mean she's not where most Spuffy fanfiction had her post-Chosen -- sitting around thinking that she'd been too late to tell this wonderful guy that she loved him, etc. etc. But she obviously deep down has powerfully strong feelings for the guy even if she doesn't think of him as boyfriend-material.

I also agree that Buffy could be subconsciously sabotaging herself. It's probably in the mix. Among other things, she might find it emotionally radioactive to contemplate finding happiness with a vampire given what happened with her recent effort to do just that.

She's a complicated girl. Which is probably a good reason of itself for her to not be in a relationship just now.

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