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Review of Buffy 8.03 'The Long Way Home' Part 3

3rd May 2007 (20:15)

This is my review of issue 3 of the comic, written whilst still as unspoilt as possible and not yet having read anyone else's comments.

Short summary: things seem to be speeding up, and we're getting more revelations, exposition and action now - although there are still even more new mysteries being raised. I liked it. 

Also - yay! She's still alive!

By 'she', of course, I mean...

Kennedy. :)

Anyway: the initial teaser was delightfully wicked... I bet lots of little fannish hearts were going pitter-pat at the thought of Buffy squeeing, being called 'my love' by her dream man. Then we get the reveal.

To which all I can do is quote what I wrote in an LJ comment on 6 April:
"My impression is that [Amy's] more malevolently mischevious than outright evil - a bit like Ethan Rayne, in fact. (Could he be the mysterious boyfriend? Nah.)"
So, so close...

I'm going to speculate here that Ethan - last seen being carted off by Riley and the New Initiative - is currently being held prisoner in the same military base that we saw in issue #2... and unknown to Amy or his captors, managed to hitch an astral ride. It's interesting that he wants Buffy's help - although it may or may not be significant that he described Amy as your enemy, not our enemy. For those who've come across it, I'm reminded of the plot of the Buffy console game Chaos Bleeds - jurer Rguna nyfb raqf hc n eryhpgnag nyyl bs Ohssl ntnvafg gur rivy cynaf bs Gur Svefg. (Eryhpgnag va gung Rguna jnf bevtvanyyl gelvat gb znxr n qrny jvgu Gur Svefg, ohg glcvpnyyl sbe uvz ur fperjrq vg hc).

Back in April I also wrote:
According to the editor's comments at the back of the comic, what happens next is going to include "an image of Spike and Angel that will be burned into your head". The mind boggles. I know certain members of my flist will be praying "Please let it be them naked in bed together. Please let it..."
I like being right. :) Though Buffy in a nurse's uniform and the chains were a detail I didn't account for... I also thought the erupting volcano and the stakes (clearly Buffy's equivalent of cigars) were a cute touch - this is her subconscious, after all. As for the meaning of having not one, but two trains about to simultaneously enter two different tunnels, I'll leave as an exercise for the reader.

And after all that, apparently Buffy thinks porn is not "real attractive". Clearly she doesn't have an LJ...

Just a note to say I really like Buffy's voice in the comics: it seems difficult for many fic writers to capture Buffy properly - but Joss, rather as you'd expect, nails it.

The quick flash of her dreamspace was interesting... I recognised the scene from 'The Body' in there - figures that would haunt her dreams still. One seems to be the last scene from 'Chosen', although they look like they're stood in front of a building instead of a schoolbus. Graduation Day is in there, and Giles's Vampyr book from 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' - although I don't recall Buffy ever actually opening it and reading it the way she does in her dream...

Meanwhile, Willow is being DEAD COOL. I loved the geekiness of her 'decoding' Amy's magic so she could reverse-engineer it. Then we get the Princess Bride moment ("I know something you don't know... I'm not left-handed" "Neither am I") as Amy reveals she's almost a match for Willow. I take it the digitising tool that makes Willow look like she's on a scratched DVD is the "techy" magic she later refers to. And Willow not only gets the black eyes when she's angry and using aggressive magic, but the dark hair and veins. I wonder if this is because of the intensity of her feelings, the power of the magic she's using, or because she's backsliding compared to S7? Or because they didn't want to go to the expense and aggravation of giving Aly the full Dark Willow make-up job in 'Selfless' and 'Get It Done'? :)

There's something odd about Willow's eyes in this comic... they're blue. Deep blue. And I even spent a minute or two googling up photos of Alyson Hannigan (tough job, but somebody's gotta do it) to check that her eyes are, indeed, supposed to be hazel. So, is this a mistake by the artist, a deliberate case of "Willow's eyes's were always supposed to be blue, it's just that the actress we hired to play her didn't have blue eyes", an effect of the lighting, or an actual Plot Point that may be explained later?

Or maybe it isn't Willow at all, it's a blue-eyed doppelganger...

So, looks like Dawn has to be added to my List of Buffy Characters Who Swear For Real (current occupants: Lehane, F.; Summers, D.). Willow's coolness this episode extends to her deadpan greeting to Dawn (and Dawn's reply was pretty good too).

Amy can't be that powerful if simply being stepped on is enough to defeat her. :)

Sadly, the Vin Diesel reference meant nothing to me until after a trip to Wikipedia, but nice to see pop culture references cropping up. Curiously, Diesel's character in the film 'XXX' was called Xander Cage; Ethan is in a cage made of XXXs, and Buffy's dream now contains another reference to Xander. Ethan then goes on to quote Shakespeare with Horatio's words to the dying Hamlet when he has decided to kill himself. Does this mean Ethan is suicidal? I doubt it, but who knows?

Or maybe the 'antique Roman' is a reference to the Immortal?

And finally with Ethan, the line "twilight is falling" seems to me to be a reference to the Beautiful Sunset cult (as well as an echo of "from beneath you it devours), making me think they're going to be the Big Bad after all. And that maybe their name is, in fact, 'Twilight'. (Or maybe the Hermetic Order of the Silver Twilight?)

Buffy's nightgown looks a lot more chaste and unrevealing in this episode. :)

So, all that kerfuffle about the 'true love' spell, and it turns out to not be a misdirect at all, but quite literal... and also the start, rather than the end of the mystery. So who kissed Buffy? Although we get the shot of Xander looking distressed, I'm personally doubtful that it was him - too simple. I liked the way that Willow ensured that if it were one of the Slayers, she could kiss her without being outed to the rest of the group. And then there's the possibility that it was a noncorporeal being, like a Scottish ghost or something equally odd. :)

Brief Giles and Andrew intermission so we don't forget about them. Giles dealing with the demons here actually has a late-Angel Wesley vibe about him; must be the Watcher training. And we get another joke about Andrew's complete lack of sexual interest in women. More interestingly, one of the Italian Slayers is reading 'Fray', which opens up an entire can of worms about canon and continuity...

Oh, and Renee's still alive. Hurrah! Cute scene, and definite flirtage. Incidentally, in previous episodes I was undecided about Renee's race/nationality: she was definitely shown with a darker complexion than some of the other characters, but since the actual colour the artist used was yellowy-green, it was difficult to make a firm decision. :) It's pretty clear now that she's black - rather than, say, southern-French Mediterranean - so I've started to call her Renee from now on instead of Renée. (Also, unlike most of the other Slayers she doesn't have an accent, suggesting that her native language is English).

And now the other 'she's still alive' moment. I liked the nuances of this: those of us who liked Kennedy and thought her relationship with Willow was a good thing can rejoice that they're still together... those (sad, misguided) souls who hated her can take comfort in the idea that she apparently won't be showing up in the comic any time soon, and that she and Willow are "taking it slow for a while." To be honest, I could totally accept it if now they drifted apart and found new relationships; I never saw W/K as an Eternal Love, just something that was right for Willow at that stage in her life. Clearly now, though, she's in a different stage of her life.

Leaving her free to find true love with Faith. :)

The mystery of what exactly happened to Willow and Kennedy is left unspoken - how did she die? How did she come back to life? Does this have anything to do with why Willow now has blue eyes? Were they in Rio after all, or in Tibet, or elsewhere? Continuity-wise, it looks like when Giles told Angel he couldn't get in contact with Willow (after Fred's death), he actually wasn't lying. I'll be interested to learn more, although I don't know if this is groundwork for a story later in the arc, or just a mysterious back-reference that will never be explained (other than in fanfic).

The Willow-Buffy bonding reminds me of Giles and Buffy in Grave: not the only similarity between this plot and the end of S6. I'm curious to know what Buffy was covered in that she didn't want to tell Xander about; any girls out there want to suggest anything? :)

And then to the climax. "It's a traahhhh!" Notice how Amy's eyes go solid black - first time we've seen this from her, and a clear sign that she's both bad news and a serious threat to Willow. All the people who guessed the identity of Amy's boyfriend can pat themselves on the back... I have to say it wasn't my guess, but when I heard others sggest it I had no problem with the idea. I wonder if Amy resurrected him, or if Willow just teleported him somewhere in 'Villains' rather than killing him as most of us assumed?

Given that Joss recently went very public in campaigning against titillating media depictions of women being tortured for so-called entertainment, I strongly suspect something will intervene befor Warren can start using that bonesaw. I am curious, and to be honest a little nervous, to see how the confrontation between them will play out. Willow has to be confronting her worst nightmare right now, and it seems to me she'll have to fight her own feelings as much as she's fighting Warren and Amy.

On a final note: Buffy looks *seriously* pissed off in her final frame. This usually results in bad things happening to bad people, so it's all good. :)

Rating: Good.

Comments

Posted by: Chani φ (frenchani)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 19:47 (UTC)

And after all that, apparently Buffy thinks porn is not "real attractive". Clearly she doesn't have an LJ...

:- )

As for Willow's eyes, I'm beginning to wonder whether Joss has a problem with colours. Could he be colour-blind? First it was Angel saying that Buffy's eyes were blue in TGIQ and now Willow is blue-eyed in the comics. Perhaps he never noticed that both SMG and AH had green eyes.

And why, ô why didn't he get Ethan back on screen first?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 20:23 (UTC)

I'm sure Willow would have one, though...

Dark Horse had an extract from Joss's 'script' for a few pages of the comic on their site a while back - I'd love to be able to read the whole thing (I wonder if it'll get released, like the shooting scripts were?) to see if he actually specifies her eye colour.

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 4th May 2007 00:55 (UTC)

Willow would have one

But to read Faith/Willow or Willow/Buffy? After that kissing awake scene I'm leaning a different direction.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th May 2007 10:16 (UTC)

Canonically, she writes Dougie Houser fanfic. I suspect she'd find RPS (and to her, Faith and Buffy are real people) disrespectful...

Posted by: globalfruitbat (globalfruitbat)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 19:49 (UTC)
buffy

Did you catch the picture in Buffy's dreamscape that looked like Joss? Lower part of the page? Made me giggle.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 20:24 (UTC)

Yes, and I also smiled - although to be honest, most of the pictures were too abstract to be really sure who they were supposed to be...

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 21:41 (UTC)

Interesting catch about Willow's blue eyes. I also noticed it but decided it's scanner's fault.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 21:59 (UTC)

No... I've got the actual printed comic, and they're definitely blue. Greeny-blue in the earlier scenes, pure blue in the later ones (although that might be because she's under blue lighting).

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 22:02 (UTC)

The quick flash of her dreamspace was interesting...
It took me a few looks to recognize the Body scene and then I sort of got my eye in. I think Tara’s there bottom left and Faith a little further up, Dawn bottom right and I have a feeling the panel Buffy’s falling over is Joyce because the hair looks very similar to the way it’s drawn in the “Mommy” scene. Hours of fun and the kind of innovative playing with the possibilities of the form that was so typical of the show.

Good point about the techy magic pixellation. Hazel eyes can look blue in some lights but not as consistently as this. And Buffy’s eyes are consistently green so it can’t be a printer glitch.

Buffy's nightgown looks a lot more chaste and unrevealing in this episode.
No side splits evident but that could be because it’s lying flat, I liked the pyjamay outfit she had at the end.

The Willow-Buffy bonding reminds me of Giles and Buffy in Grave
Also the elevator shaft hug that Xanfder dropped in on in Primeval?

Buffy looks *seriously* pissed off in her final frame. This usually results in bad things happening to bad people, so it's all good.
Yep :-)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 22:08 (UTC)

Uh that was me if you didn't recognise the typos already

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 22:22 (UTC)

Ooh. I can see the Tara and Faith resemblances now - at least with Faith, the hair and the pose are right, and the mouth - though I actually took that to be Willow at first. Tara I can only really see because of the hairstyle. Agreed on Dawn. Somebody else spotted Caleb, top left (you can tell by his collar).

I wonder if the black woman with dreadlocks cut off at the bottom of the page is the First Slayer? (Although there's no sign of white facepaint). Not so sure about the one you identify as Joyce... I don't suppose it's Anya?

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 5th May 2007 12:39 (UTC)

I'm not sure about the Joyceness either. The length of the face is Anya-like but there's something older woman about the eyes that says Joyce to me. Not that Anya isn't really realy old. But not mature/motherly. That it's the picture Buffy's falling through also suggests Joyce because that should mean it's important (Ethan is falling through Giles acting as watcher). The angular hair looks too straightened for Joyce but it is similar to the way the hair is drawn for her body on the couch.

I think you're right about the first slayer and it's interesting that we just start to see hints of her. This dreamspace idea seems too big and too comic-exploitable just to be used as a one-off excuse to fit in an OT3 joke and isn't it creepy to have random old English guys stalking about in it, sniffing through the contents. I wonder if it's going to be explored further as the arc progresses (not just in the stalky way explored).

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th May 2007 13:16 (UTC)

Hey! As a random old English guy myself, I resent that!
;)

I'm now thinking that the Joyce/Anya woman is Jenny - I've already posted this in about two different places, but see what you thik:



It's mostly in the hair, and the eyebrows. And Jenny should certainly haunt Buffy's subconscious, given how she died, who killed her, and why.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 5th May 2007 13:47 (UTC)

But you don't resemble it. Apart from the English part:-)

The hair is good but the expression looks off to me.

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 22:16 (UTC)

Buffy looks *seriously* pissed off in her final frame.

I honestly thought she looked really cute.

I noticed the blue color of Willow's eyes, that's weird.

The scene between the three Scoobies was awesome, Sleeping Beauty, Action Jackson and Elphaba together again. Aww.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd May 2007 22:24 (UTC)

I suppose she is a bit too pouty to be totally fearsome... but the dialogue sold it for me. (and "I'm not liking it" is another of the perfect Buffyisms I mentioned).

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 4th May 2007 14:03 (UTC)
S8 OT3 by st_salieri

And after all that, apparently Buffy thinks porn is not "real attractive".
Well regular porn isn't. Vampire porn on the other hand... ;)

I liked the way that Willow ensured that if it were one of the Slayers, she could kiss her without being outed to the rest of the group.
To me, that mostly said that it was Willow who was going to be the kisser... *prays for someone else* (even Xander) (Not that I'm against Willow/Buffy, but it just seems very bizarre, pointless and OOC.)

Still Buffy's fantasy is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, so mostly I'm just giggling.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th May 2007 15:07 (UTC)

Yeah, but that's not Willow. It's her blue-eyed evil twin. :)

Realistically, if Buffy ends up in a relationship in S8, who could it be with? Despite what a lot of people want, it can't be either Spike or Angel (except in fantasies) because of the contractual issues. (Unless Joss is lying about them, of course...).

Xander is currently front and centre as the first possibility, which makes me think he's unlikely to be the one. Dawn, Giles and Andrew are all pretty much ruled out for a variety of excellent reasons. Riley might reappear, but I suspect Joss is slightly more aware of commercial realities than we often give him credit for, and he doesn't want all the fans to desert him. :) Ethan may be a possibility, on the principle of "Buffy hates him so much it must actually be love", but I wouldn't put money on it.

That leaves either a brand new character - which may be tricky to introduce in the comics medium, though it could work (I'm increaingly fond of Renee, for instance) - or one of the women. I went into more detail on why it could be Willow here, although I honestly can't see Joss writing any involvement between them as a fluffy romantic love story.. or even necessarily reciprocal. (Willow realising she's in love with Buffy, Buffy not returning the feelings but not wanting to hurt Willow either would be a suitably Jossian story, don't you think?)

Anyway, I still like my theory that the person who kissed Buffy is actually a ghost, not one of the humans in the room. :)

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