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StephenT [userpic]

(Review) BtVS 8.13 'Wolves at the Gate' Part 2

3rd April 2008 (21:39)

Issue 8.13 was... interesting. I can certainly agree that some parts of it are pure crack!fiction - but then again, so was the episode 5.01 'Buffy vs Dracula' in the first place. There's also some solid characterisation and plot development, and one of the scariest threats to our heroes that we've yet to see. Scott Allie even makes some thoughtful and interesting comments on his letters page. And Renee's changing expressions all through the comic are simply adorable...

"I agree with you that what's happening in this comic has plenty of moral ambiguity to it. Buffy's struggle is as much a battle of free will as right and wrong. Is the Slayer army a cult? Does she exhibit some of the same arrogance as the Watcher Council? I think it's pretty easy to argue yes to both questions." 

"The book has more to do with Buffy's strength of character than her physical strength, and both get explored and defined only through the events of the story."

- Scott Allie, Editor, Dark Horse Comics


However, before going into the main review, let's come to a screeching halt. Let's look at the one line in this comic that hit me right between the eyes. About halfway through, we get this:

DRACULA: These powers you speak of-- they're part of the ancient magics. I risked my very soul to attain them. I am their worldly guardian.

Dracula has a soul? Like Angel and Spike? Now, it's possible that this was a slip of the pen by Drew Goddard, and will be retconned out of existence in a later issue. Or it could be that Dracula is talking about an evil, demonic soul, not a human one. But taking him at face value... he has a soul.

Thinking about it, it's not so unbelievable: Angel has his soul because he was cursed by gypsies in Romania, and Dracula lives in Romania and has special powers which Spike describes as "showy gypsy stuff". There's a connection. Maybe Dracula has the same curse Angel has, so consummating his relationship with Xander would be dangerous...

Of course, you can argue that Dracula still seems pretty evil. He kills peasants and hunts small Albanian boys, and his views on race are somewhat unenlightened. On the other hand, presumably the human Vlad Dracul had a soul, and the killings and maimings and impalements he inflicted on his victims far outstrip anything the average vampire gets up to. This vampire Dracula certainly seems capable of fairly subtle emotions, including affection.

He also needs to shave, which creates an immediate canon conflict with Angel:After the Fall 6.05. Still, according to my 'vampire hair growth theory', we can assume that Dracula was full-bearded as a human and has to shave to appear smooth-chinned. He also either uses a glamour to seem younger, or dyes his hair black...

The idea of a past-it, has-been vampire slumped in decadence is an interesting one. It's been suggested there's a deliberate parallel being drawn with Buffy. Yes, she's in her prime; but both of them are isolated and feel alone. Furthermore, both of them feel forced to put up a facade to the world and appear to be something they aren't for the benefit of the people around them.

Whether Xander is under Dracula's thrall is open to debate. I think there are a few moments where he does seem to be - like when he tells Renee "Watch your tone, Moor" - but he snaps out of that really quickly. My judgement is that he's still got his free will as long as he's on his guard, but if he relaxes too much he can fall under the 'fluence. For that matter, there are definite times when he seems to be deliberately playing Dracula himself; calling him 'Master' seems to be a deliberate ploy.

The slashy undertones, especially in the "you've lost weight" conversation, are very funny. Renee's reaction to them ("Oh, for the love of God...") is even funnier. I do get the impression that there's a genuine friendship between them.

As for how that happened, well... this is the crack!fic bit. To be fair, I think Drew is well aware of that, and approaches the issue head-on by letting Andrew try to justify it while the Slayers he's addressing express all the incredulity and doubt that we readers are feeling. ("Wait-- what?") The message seems to be, "Yes, I know this is out of left field, just go with it, okay? Then we can move on." Although I'm generally not an Andrew fan, I did think this scene was funny - the outfit, the big board, the audience reactions. Also, some facts to take note of:

1) Xander and Dracula exchanged letters? Say what? Seriously, somebody needs to write a fic in the form of these letters to tell us what they said. I do like the shout-out to the original Dracula novel.
2) Anya is mentioned, and the fact that Xander grieved for her is acknowledged. That should hopefully please a few people.
3) Dracula really is living in Transylvania.
4) One Slayer asks "Buffy just allowed him to go hang out with Dracula?" - which is an interesting assumption regarding the amount of authority the other Slayers ascribe to Buffy. I doubt that Xander himself would think he needed her permission to go anywhere. Like I said last time, it seems that a heirarchy of authority is building up around Buffy almost despite her wishes.
5) Notice the Slayer carrying a huge bale of hay in the background in one panel?
6) What, exactly, is "guy time" in this context?
7) One of the pictures shows a girl with purple hair and a tuft sticking up at the front. Surely that's not Simone, is it? Isn't she supposed to be in armed rebellion against Buffy's authority? It's probably a coincidence.

The next scene at Slayer Central does more to showcase Buffy's authority - not to mention her charisma and cult-leader status among some Slayers. Aiko is (was) clearly an extremely competent and capable Slayer, but she's also apparently a Buffy fangirl overwhelmed to be finally talking to her idol face to face. And then there's Buffy's treatment of Satsu - which to my eyes is pretty out of order. I don't think I'm alone either - Willow seems pretty pissed off at Buffy's curtness, and concerned for Satsu. The other Slayers seem to be looking quite shocked as well. Satsu is raising a genuine concern and coming up with a good suggestion, and Buffy not only refuses to consider it, but slaps her down for daring to show initiative.

It could be argued that this is proof that the Slayer organisation is exactly the sort of disciplined, heirarchical organisation some people were claiming it was last month. That's possible, but I'm not entirely convinced. The so-far-nameless black woman with long hair in the purple sweater is willing to stand up to Buffy ("My point, ma'am, is that..."), and apparently showed independent initiative by telling Aiko to stay on the line because Buffy would want to speak to her in person... she's not a subdued underling. The general attitude in the control room reflects this - we see lots of girls (including Leah) talking and looking at screens and reading papers and arguing and being proactive: this is a hive of activity with people taking the initiative, not a row of minions waiting to hear and obey Buffy's wishes. She's definitely in command, yes, but it still to me reflects the Scooby Gang writ large. Discussion and argument is fine until there's an impending apocalypse, when Buffy will take control and expect everyone to do as she says. As shown here.

So if Buffy doesn't normally expect instant obedience, why does she want it from Satsu here? I suspect personal reasons lie behind her extreme reaction. Perhaps she's afraid Satsu is trying to use their sleeping together as a way to increase her status in the organisation, and she's rejecting that. Or, more charitably, she's afraid the other Slayers will think so, and she's trying to make a point to them that she's not going to give Satsu any special treatment. There's also the classic Buffy trait of pushing away people who try to get close to her, and focussing on the mission at the expense of personal relationships. Maybe she regrets her experiment and wants to forget it ever happened, although there's no real evidence for that either way.

Turning back to Dracula, Xander and Renee, there's already been some controversy about the Dark Master (Bator)'s racism (the references to 'Moors', 'Orientals' and 'filthy yellow swine'.) In the original book, Dracula was certainly a believer in the racial superiority of Transylvanians over all the lesser races who tried and failed to conquer them. Frankly, to me his attitudes seem pretty much like a (slightly exaggerated) version of the sort of views that were considered perfectly acceptable a hundred years ago, anod they're intended to show how out-of-date and out-of-touch Dracula has become. (Plus, of course, to help us remember that he's not a good guy).

Question: is Dracula calling Renee a 'Moor' as just an old-fashioned word for a black person, or is this proof that her ethnic origin is actually from the Maghreb region?

So as well as black helicopters, the Slayer organisation also has C-5A Galaxy transport aircraft at its disposal. For the record, those things cost in the region of $160 million each... that's an awful lot of diamonds to steal. And I still want to know who's piloting the things. Unfortunately, because they go by covert means instead of a commercial flight, we don't learn if Satsu has a Japanese passport.

Willow's conversation with Satsu is a (controversial) highlight of the comic. Given her look of concern earlier, I'm pretty sure Willow has sought out Satsu deliberately. Her words seem to be friendly advice and sympathy to comfort Satsu, or at least stop her getting hurt worse; but I think she's also trying to defend and justify Buffy's actions. It's interesting that Willow buys into the "Buffy is the general" idea, that she's special and unique. Of course, that's not a new thing for Willow ("You're the Slayer, Buffy.  Your stuff is pretty crucial" - 'Primeval' "Xander has the luxury of not saying it, but you're the Slayer. You have to say stuff like that." - 'Same Time, Same Place'). What's even more interesting is that Willow sees herself as one of the girls - "She's not like us" - rather than being, oh, say, the most powerful witch in the Western hemisphere and the one who cast the spell turning everyone into a Slayer in the first place...

I had to look up what HGOGA stands for in the Urban Dictionary. ('Hot Girl-On-Girl Action', if you were wondering.) I still don't know if it's pronounced "aitch-gee-oh-gee-ay" or "huh-go-gah". It's interesting that Willow is happy to use jokey euphemisms and circumlocutions for "lesbian" but is totally thrown when Satsu bluntly uses the term 'dyke'. (Which, when I was going through my political formative years, was one of those words you're only allowed to use if you are one. Don't know if that's still true.) More confirmation that despite her respectful outer appearance, Satsu is pretty down-to-earth and forthright when she wants to be.

The end of this conversation is one time when I do wish we could hear the actresses speaking the dialogue. Is Willow being pushy and inappropriate, or is she being mischevious and cute? Without tone of voice it's hard to tell. However her facial expression does seem conspiratorial, and while Satsu looks shocked, it does look to me like shocked-laughter rather than shocked-and-offended. And she's leaning in towards Willow in the next panel. I'm thinking  giggly girly conversation, not uncomfortable prying. Remember, this is the Willow who pressed Buffy for "Details!" about her first night with Parker, and enjoyed her "vicarious smoochies" with Buffy and Riley.

I'm pleased to see it confirmed in canon that Willow has often thought about having sex with Buffy, and slightly disappointed to see it confirmed that she doesn't have first-hand knowledge of the experience. :-)

Okay, serious question. Can anybody remember any episodes of the TV show where Sarah Michelle Gellar made a "high pitched squeal" like the one Willow describes? Just for research purposes...

I do wonder if there's a part of Willow that's a bit jealous, so she's making it clear to Satsu that she's got nine years' intimate knowledge of Buffy. Also, since I think about these things way too much, I'm wondering if Willow has ever heard Buffy have sex. The reverse is certainly true, since Buffy had the bedroom just the other side of an internal partition wall from Willow and Tara in season 6 and Willow and Kennedy in season 7, but Buffy would surely never have brought Spike up to her own room in season 6. Maybe when they were roommates in season 4 Willow would pretend to be asleep when Buffy got back from a late-night patrol feeling hungry and horny? (There's a plot-bunny there, if a plot-bunny for a PWP isn't a contradiction in terms. A porn-bunny?)

The death of Aiko is pretty brutal, and makes it clear that these are serious opponents. The fact that the Scythe can apparently be used to reverse the Slayer spell and turn her back to a normal girl is also a nasty idea. I wonder if it's a permanent effect or temporary? Incidentally, the Japanese word Kumiko shouts when she casts the spell is 逃げろ (pronounced 'nigero') which means 'Run away!' That could be random, or a Monty Python reference, or she could be ordering the Slayer empowerment mojo to go away.

Politically, I'm wondering if the moral is that we should never relax. Women have received a fair measure of equality and empowerment today as compared to 30 years ago; but it's still possible for a reactionary social movement to come to power and sweep all those changes away, unless we're vigilant...

Comments

Posted by: fix me, motherfucker! i'm standing right here. (immortality)
Posted at: 3rd April 2008 21:39 (UTC)
a loaded god complex cock it and pull it

Brilliant summary, as always.

Maybe I'm the only one who thought this, but I thought Satsu said 'dyke' in such a way that she was almost demeaning herself. As far as I know (being a young, hip lesbian), most younger people still don't use that word to describe themselves -- at least not in most situations. I almost never use it, and when I do, it's always to refer to myself in a derogatory way (e.g., 'my parents would hate me if they knew i was a dyke'). I personally felt like Satsu was doing that because she is now feeling the after-effects of her one night stand with Buffy, and is sort hating herself right now for getting into this mess. But, I don't know. Maybe I'm just reading too much into it. Still, the fact that Willow inserts that she was going to use such a 'fluffy' term to describe herself and Satsu, which is in such stark contrast to 'dyke', makes me think Satsu said it in a self-deprecating way.

I very much believe that Buffy's coming off as so cold because she doesn't want the other girls to think that Satsu is going to get special treatment, now that she and Buffy have slept together. Since they are sort of like an 'army,' this makes the most sense. Well, that, and I think Buffy's still afraid of getting too close to anyone, and since she's gone so far with Satsu, now she has to push her away again. Or it could be that, while she liked the one night stand and had a good time, she's afraid that Satsu will see it as more than what it really was. Or, really, it could be a combination of all three. :O!

I'd love to ramble more about the rest of your post, but I haven't read the issue yet, aside from parts that have been put up on scans_daily. However, I do have to add that I completely agree with all the points/observations you made about the Xander and Dracula bits.

Edited at 2008-04-03 21:40 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd April 2008 22:41 (UTC)

I don't know about "self-deprecating" - she's using the word to describe Buffy, not herself, after all - but I do agree with the impression she's feeling generally depressed and angry at the world, and "dyke" does sound like an angry word.

Well, except as part of the phrase "de-dyking my apartment" which a friend was fond of using to describe the process of hiding all the inciminating evidence before her conservative, not-in-the-know parents came to visit... That just sounded cute. :-)

Posted by: leseparatist (novin_ha)
Posted at: 3rd April 2008 21:55 (UTC)
[angel] hop on gorgeous

I am sorry, what do you mean Buffy had sex in season four?! This seems impossible! She was single in season four!

::enjoys splashing her feet in the waters of the Nile::

I didn't like the soul think. I'm thinking a metaphor or something, because we already have enough souled vamps.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd April 2008 22:43 (UTC)

That S4 bit was intended as a masturbation reference, not a Riley reference, if that helps at all...
:-)


While Dracula having a soul would be an interesting develpment, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Drew simply forgot and used the phrase without thinking...

Posted by: leseparatist (novin_ha)
Posted at: 3rd April 2008 22:47 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd April 2008 23:00 (UTC)

Posted by: leseparatist (novin_ha)
Posted at: 3rd April 2008 23:34 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 22:34 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th April 2008 12:13 (UTC)

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 3rd April 2008 23:42 (UTC)
Bangel Date

Andrew is the writer's "Get out of jail free" card.

It allows him to explain things while keeping plausible deniability. It's a nice, "We explained it, but since it's Andrew, you can think it's true, or just him lying, choose your own truth depending on how much of a clown you think Xander is."

I thought the Xander part was filler. A way to give Xander a story without giving him a story. Might've worked better on TV, where you have more time to fill...

Now, you seem to want to hold on to the idea that Buffy's authority and image in the Slayer cult is something she didn't ask for, didn't encourage, doesn't really want?

And I can't really see where you're getting that from. Buffy seems pretty confortable giving orders and expects them to be obeyed without question. She's not surprised or annoyed at being looked at like a movie star / religious figure.

In fact the biggest difference I see between S7 Buffy and the new improved version, in regards to authority, is that now she knows the name of the people she orders about.

Yay?

And after what 2 or 3 (at least) iterations of the "Buffy feels alone" storyline, well, I can't bring myself to care again.

Awesome villains though. And the non filler portion is good.

Maybe I'd accept the filler portion better if I resigned myself to the fact that apparently Xander can't carry a story that isn't "Xander provides support" or "Xander is a clown"?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 09:55 (UTC)

Whether you think Xander's story was "filler" or "the main body of the episode" is purely a matter of opinion. He certainly got more dialogue and pages than anyone else.

Buffy seems pretty confortable giving orders and expects them to be obeyed without question.

How does that change from season 1 through 7 Buffy? Fighting evil has always taken precedence over other peoples' sensibilities to her.

Anyway, I don't think she's surprised any more at the way the other women treat her, but her "Yep, it's really me" reply to Aiko seems to me to have an air of "Get on with it" about it. She's not basking in the adulation, she's annoyed by it but doesn't think she can fight it.

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 10:23 (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 09:51 (UTC)

There was enough 'funny racism' in this comic without you contributing the real thing.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 09:56 (UTC)

Posted by: ntshpp (ntshpp)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 11:43 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 15:27 (UTC)

Posted by: skipp_of_ark (skipp_of_ark)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 04:47 (UTC)

I think you're giving Andrew's story entirely too much credit. I think anybody with half a brain should be able to tell it's complete and utter horseshit.

Of course, I also think anybody who actually think's Andrew is funny either has had, or should be given, an involuntary lobotomy complete with no anaesthesia, and both Joss and Goddard should be the first ones. The Xander-Dracula "storyine" has not risen above the level of the level of used toilet paper and is sinking fast. It's unredeemable garbage. I'm still waiting for Willow to made a Buttmonkey for as long as Xander has been subjected to it; she's long deserved that level of abject humiliation and I deserve to laugh at it.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 09:59 (UTC)

Andrew's stories usually have a core of truth with a huge amount of misinterpretation and embellishment on top. And while Xander's storyline in this issue is clearly being played for laughs, I'm not seeing "humiliation". He's gone head to head with a powerful and ancient vampire that even Buffy was unable to defeat, and persuaded him to help their cause. Good for him.

Posted by: ennui_blue_lite (ennui_blue_lite)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 18:48 (UTC)

Posted by: satsux (satsux)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 05:19 (UTC)

As an Andrew fan, I have to say that I don't really get why what he said can't be taken as something that's the truth. I can see why a lot of people hate him, but for the Buffyverse, especially in comic format, a character like Andrew works pretty well.

I completely think that he's exagerating, but I also find it to be something that could've happen. Everyone is assuming Xander's being a buttmonkey here. But to me, the writers are just setting up the big moment where Xander opens up for what his life has become in the last few years, probably by the end of the issue, or on his date with Renee.

I mean, we know that Xander longs for a buddy and Dracula, whether we like it or not, is probably the only male in the Buffyverse who would be Xander's friend just for the sake of liking him and not cause he's dating one of the girls.

Also, the key point. Anya's death. We've seen the girls do insane things after one of their lovers died. Why couldn't Xander go and decide to become someone more powerful than him's everything to feel better? Sure, Drew's taking the funny approach to it, but we all know that living with a vampire more than likely has darker understones (Was he being vamp suck.. or the more garden variaty male on male suckin ^__^). So assuming this is making Xander to be a clown is kinda premature.

Aside from "master" I saw no Xander degrading. In fact he's just being typical funny Xander. As always.

I honestly believe that this was done for us to just expect a look inside Xander, since this is the Xander centric arc. But we have to wait. And Andrew, like a good storyteller he is, just gave us something to ponder about till we get the pay off.

As far as Buffy goes? Typical Buffy. People should really stop sleeping with her. And I loved the Willow conversation. I could hear Aly delivering those lines and so far, I'm pretty much liking this arc. But I tended to like the goofy eps so this is truly one of my faves so far in the comic.

Question. How will Dawn make it to Tokyo?

Posted by: satsux (satsux)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 05:36 (UTC)

Oh before I forget. The soul thing could be taken as Dracula just being melodramatic. Or as my own theory, that what Spike and Angel have is not exactly a soul, but more of a human trigger to feel guilt and remorse like humans do. Cause soul or souless, both Spike and Angel have done bad things.

As far as how he got the magic, I think they're either throwing it out there or directly referencing the Spike Vs Dracula mini series comic published by the same people behind after the fall. Which gives the backstory between the mysterious line that Spike said in Buffy vs Dracula.

According to that story, Dracula got his powers by the same gypsies that cursed Angel. So all the black magics he knows is directly connected to that clan.

It would be cool if they made that story canon. it adds a lot of Spike and Dracula's backstory and also makes an Oz reference.

Just thought I would add.

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 08:04 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 10:09 (UTC)

Posted by: ennui_blue_lite (ennui_blue_lite)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 19:03 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th April 2008 12:20 (UTC)

Posted by: Kate (slayerkate)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 07:01 (UTC)

Okay, serious question. Can anybody remember any episodes of the TV show where Sarah Michelle Gellar made a "high pitched squeal" like the one Willow describes? Just for research purposes...

I'm pretty sure she did it in season three, after Willow said she was going to attend UC Sunnydale.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th April 2008 12:38 (UTC)
buffy-willow

Is this what you were thinking of?

http://www.mdd-marketing.co.uk/video/files/CHO-BW-squee.avi

:-)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 08:18 (UTC)

Do I even have to point out anymore that even when I disagree with your reviews, I really enjoy them? Thanks for the translation of the spell - as spells go, it seems pretty prosaic, but of course we know that if a witch is powerful enough they can just tell the Forces to do their bidding. (Are we to take it that Kumiko is the most powerful witch of the Eastern hemisphere?)

I can certainly agree that some parts of it are pure crack!fiction - but then again, so was the episode 5.01 'Buffy vs Dracula' in the first place.

Yeah, but... scale, man. IMO, that's like saying "Yes, Dawn is a bit large - but then again, she was taller than Buffy in s7 in the first place." ;-)

This vampire Dracula certainly seems capable of fairly subtle emotions, including affection.

...as did just about every vampire who (which?) ever got more character development than just stakebait. I wouldn't take that as proof he has a soul.

He also either uses a glamour to seem younger, or dyes his hair black...

Dracula rejuvenates when he feeds, doesn't he? I bet he's got Albanian Boy on tap.

One Slayer asks "Buffy just allowed him to go hang out with Dracula?" - which is an interesting assumption regarding the amount of authority the other Slayers ascribe to Buffy.

Or they've picked up on the fact that so far in s8, Buffy and Xander have been really close and she presumably wouldn't want one of her best friends to become the "manservant" of one of the most dangerous vampires on Earth. Even if he didn't need her permission, you'd think she'd at least inform him that it was a Very Bad Idea and not let him rot there for months before taking a couple of Slayers to rescue him.

Satsu is raising a genuine concern and coming up with a good suggestion, and Buffy not only refuses to consider it, but slaps her down for daring to show initiative.

Which I suppose ties back to Scott Allie's (and many others') questions. As far as I can tell, this issue makes it clear that Buffy's In Charge. The question now becomes if she should be - personally, I think it's starting to look like "Empty Spaces" all over again. And I was never 100% on Buffy's side in that argument. She "shared her power", now how about actually, um, sharing it? Wasn't that spell supposed to be metaphor? If she hates being in charge and isolated, why is she actively isolating herself and not listening to others' opinions in important matters?

this is a hive of activity with people taking the initiative, not a row of minions waiting to hear and obey Buffy's wishes.

I don't think anyone's argued that that's the case, either. In any reasonably sane top-down organisation, underlings are expected to use all their skills - including things like initiative and imagination - to further the cause of the leader. :-) Besides, if you were looking to suck up to Buffy Summers, wouldn't you make sure to look busy when she's in the room? (Yes, I'm exaggerating a bit.)

but it still to me reflects the Scooby Gang writ large

And the reason Buffy became boss of the scooby gang was because she was The Slayer. Singular. Obviously she's still the most experienced one (though I'm not sure it's paying off in terms of wise leadership) but... it's been 18 months. We've done the class struggle, we're currently in the dictatorship of the proletariat with V.I. Buffy as party chairman... when do we get free elections? :-)

It's interesting that Willow buys into the "Buffy is the general" idea, that she's special and unique.

Yup. And again, I miss hearing someone actually delivering the lines: that scene could well be read as Willow being a little bitter towards Buffy (going with her obvious disapproval of the Buffy/Satsu scene earlier) - Satsu isn't the only one whose opinions have been shot down lately. We still haven't seen a good Willow/Buffy conversation since the events of #10, and I'm wondering if Willow is "letting things fester" again.

I'm wondering if Willow has ever heard Buffy have sex.

Maybe Buffy and Riley forgot to hang a sock on the dorm door sometime in s4/s5? Or maybe Willow stumbled over Faith and Buffy, um, "debriefing" each other after patrol in s3...?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 10:26 (UTC)

Do I even have to point out anymore that even when I disagree with your reviews, I really enjoy them?
"I like to hear you say it" [/River Tam] Thanks. :-)

I like the idea of Kumiko being "the most powerful witch in the Eastern hemisphere." And Dracula rejuvenating as he feeds is certainly part of the original Bram Stoker character, but I don't know how much of that they're using.

you'd think she'd at least inform him that it was a Very Bad Idea and not let him rot there for months before taking a couple of Slayers to rescue him

You're assuming she knew where he was and what had happened to him? Maybe he took off, left a message saying he needed to be alone. Or maybe, like I suggest above, this actually isn't the first time they've worked together with Dracula to counter some threat, and that's what lay behind the earlier meeting.


personally, I think it's starting to look like "Empty Spaces" all over again.

I'd say it's the diametric opposite in many ways. In S7 people were so unhappy with Buffy's poor leadership skills that they eventually pushed her out as leader. In S8 they're so dazzled by her improved leadership skills that they're forcing her to be their full-time leader in a way she neither expected nor wanted.

Her snapping at Satsu - which I'm convinced is due to their personal issues, not a reflection of her general leadership style - may even be a good thing, if it stops the other Slayers idolising her so much... It's interesting that judging by their expressions, the other Slayers in the room sympathised with Satsu there. There's no resentment of her for "sleeping with the boss" - at least, not that we've seen.

And can I say, I actually did enjoy the scenes of this petite 24-year old blonde woman so obviously in control of a large, international organisation? It makes a change from the sort of people usually depicted as being in charge of such groups...

that scene could well be read as Willow being a little bitter towards Buffy

Wouldn't surprise me at all. Of course, Willow is the sort of person who will defend Buffy to someone else even when she's seething internally about what she's been doing.

Edited at 2008-04-04 10:28 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 11:09 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 11:50 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 12:49 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 13:53 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 14:32 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 13th April 2008 20:05 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 13th April 2008 23:34 (UTC)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 14th April 2008 06:41 (UTC)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 09:48 (UTC)
Xacula

Question: is Dracula calling Renee a 'Moor' as just an old-fashioned word for a black person, or is this proof that her ethnic origin is actually from the Maghreb region?

Considering all the mistakes with the Brit setting in the BKV Faith arc, I'd be surprised if DG had even heard of the Maghreb. I honestly wouldn't read any more into the 'Moor' epithet than DG trying to find the least inoffensive offensive word to describe a black person.

The control room stuff all seemed pretty silly to me. It reminded me of a girls comic story I read as a kid called Class 6; Sterndorf.

And I suspect the Dracula's soul thing was just a slip up. It's not the first time in BtVS vampires have talked about having souls. They probably mean some kind of demon soul.

Oops, sorry! Meant to add, very enjoyable review, though I don't agree with a lot of it. I just don't think this comic has the depth that you think it has.

Edited at 2008-04-04 09:49 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 10:41 (UTC)

I think, from my perspective... the show has always had continuity errors (who's Spike's sire, again?), plotlines that were left hanging or that came out of nowhere (Buffy's blood does what now?), things that made no sense when you looked at them too closely (Angel's curse), cultural mistakes (why is a British assassin calling petrol "gas" and economy class "coach"?) etc etc. But it also had incredible emotional and even philosophical depth sometimes.

And since it's the same Mutant Enemy writers creating stories about the same characters, why shouldn't their work now have the same depth along with the same mistakes?

Not that I can convince anyone of that by saying "There's depth! Really! Look!", I know... all I can do is just continue to talk about the intricacies and complexities in the story that I see every time I read it...

But thanks for reading, even if you disagree with me. :-)

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 17:09 (UTC)

Posted by: flake_sake (flake_sake)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 10:22 (UTC)

That Dracula mentioned his soul was indeed strange. It could have been a slip, but there is so much fuss about souls in the Buffyverse that I doubt it. I like the demonic soul theory.
If we go with Dracula legends the guy is Vlad the impaler so maybe his soul wasn't a very good one to begin with. The soul after all only makes people more human, would be nice if they'd acknowledge that that doesn't mean less evil necessarily.

For the old man thing: He probably uses some sort of glamour. Would be cool if it was something similar to Angel's glamour in AtF. Maybe he isn't a vampire at all, it would fill the supernatural tabloids of the Buffyverse.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 10:46 (UTC)

He probably uses some sort of glamour. Would be cool if it was something similar to Angel's glamour in AtF.
Though going by what Angel said about that glamour and how it was cast on him, I'm suddenly having strange thoughts about excactly what Dracula and Xander (and Butterfield, now) would have had to do...

Posted by: flake_sake (flake_sake)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 10:53 (UTC)

Posted by: ennui_blue_lite (ennui_blue_lite)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 20:59 (UTC)

Posted by: flake_sake (flake_sake)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 21:45 (UTC)

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 12:05 (UTC)

I really love to read your reviews. They're always positive, and that's what I want to read. Even though I'm not a big fan of S7, I only enjoy reading positive reviews about it. Negative reviews annoy me, making me think why is this person watching/reading this in the first place if they don't like it or consider it fanfic? I think it's because deep down they know that it's important, or else they can just drop it like the other unimportant unheard about comics.

Anyway, haven't read the issue yet, but even though I'm not sure I'd like the Xander/Drac stuff, I have to admit it's not the first bad retcon, Spike's sire anyone? Spike in love with Buffy since the beginning? Normal Again? And it's not the first time comedy sacrifices characterization: Pangs?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 13:58 (UTC)

Well, they're positive reviews because I'm actually enjoying the comic - very much so, in fact. Not to mention finding a lot of depth in it, and a lot of things worth writing about.

By contrast, I've got no problems with Angel:After the Fall but I'm not nearly as excited about it, and as a result I haven't got around to writing a review of that yet. And I've not even attempted to do one on Serenity:Better Days.

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 17:37 (UTC)

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 17:47 (UTC)

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 17:57 (UTC)

Posted by: Going through the motions (rowanda380)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 13:15 (UTC)
from angel comic community

Maybe Dracula has the same curse Angel has, so consummating his relationship with Xander would be dangerous...

hehehehehe
good point :0)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 13:59 (UTC)
Re: from angel comic community

They'll just have to snark at each other so Dracula doesn't reach perfect happiness.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 4th April 2008 22:51 (UTC)
Scoobies

Interesting review, thank you.

And then there's Buffy's treatment of Satsu - which to my eyes is pretty out of order.

But totally in character. Buffy has to be harder on Satsu because she is her lover. (Maybe Buffy makes a big mistake by leaving the castle unguarded - we'll see.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th April 2008 12:42 (UTC)

Thnaks! And yes, when I say she's "out of order" I mean that's how I'd judge her behaviour if she were a real person. In terms of storytelling and characterisation, it's spot on.

I wonder if Buffy's mistake in leaving the castle unguarded lies behind how Dawn ends up in Tokyo?

Posted by: softlikebutter (softlikebutter)
Posted at: 6th April 2008 15:23 (UTC)

Stumbled onto your site while trying to find out more after the whole Satsu/Buffy thing, and your previous Satsu post has gotta be the most detailed study of a (still somewhat) minor character on BtVS ever. :)

Awesome review, by the way, with all the extra tidbits and insight. Call me shallow if you want, but I read Buffy S8 mostly for fluffy, entertainment value, so reading your reviews are very enjoyable and eye-opening for me. Look forward to the next issue and your review!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th April 2008 16:49 (UTC)

The thing about Satsu is, because she's only been in a few things so far, it's possible to be thorough when you examine her character. Try doing the same with Xander or Willow! :-)

Glad you're enjoying the reviews. Thanks!

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 7th July 2011 18:31 (UTC)
(Review) BtVS 8.13 'Wolves at the Gate' Part 2

Lovely review as they all have been. (I think I forgot that part in my previous comment, sorry)

DRACULA: These powers you speak of-- they're part of the ancient magics. I risked my very soul to attain them. I am their worldly guardian.

I'm pretty sure that's just a figure of speech. Then again, a phrase like "I went to hell and back again" can have a very literal meaning in the Buffyverse. Still, the idea that Dracula has a soul cannot be dismissed. He might have underwent the same ritual as Spike, because he knew he needed a soul to learn those transmogrification powers. He's also in complete control of his demonic urges, which is a point in favour of the theory. Both the human and the demon were just very bad persons.

So as well as black helicopters, the Slayer organisation also has C-5A Galaxy transport aircraft at its disposal. For the record, those things cost in the region of $160 million each... that's an awful lot of diamonds to steal. And I still want to know who's piloting the things. Unfortunately, because they go by covert means instead of a commercial flight, we don't learn if Satsu has a Japanese passport.

I recognized the transport aircraft but I honestly didn't recognize its significance even though I know those things are expensive. I just thought "cool" and moved on. :-) If you combine that with the thought that Buffy was trying to spend the money she had left over in "The long way home" then...WOW, they must have brought that bank to ruins. The sad part is, I don't think the writers thought it through like the reader are. :-(

The death of Aiko is pretty brutal, and makes it clear that these are serious opponents. The fact that the Scythe can apparently be used to reverse the Slayer spell and turn her back to a normal girl is also a nasty idea.

Which is what Buffy was afraid off. There's a reason she's in apocalypse mode. (Sidenote: completely ridiculous aiming skills though.) And I hate that we get a look at this incredibly cool and skilled slayer, just to get rid of her. *grumbles*

So if Buffy doesn't normally expect instant obedience, why does she want it from Satsu here? I suspect personal reasons lie behind her extreme reaction.

I thought it was harsh too the first time I read it, but I see something completely different on reading it again. I think this is the first time these slayers have actually seen Buffy in "apocalypse mode" (many people seem to call that General!Buffy nowadays which I think is unfair.) Note that Buffy's face relaxes for the first time when she asks Willow whether Xander is in trouble (again). I also think that the "we didn't tangle" comment is a slightly depressed one (note that she's looking at the ground). Not that long ago these slayer were very green behind the ears. It's likely they haven't seen Buffy in apocalypse mode yet.

It's interesting that Willow buys into the "Buffy is the general" idea, that she's special and unique.

Interesting...yes. Surprising...no. But you commented on that part. What is worse though, is that in that aeroplane Willow has gone to Satsu to support her, but she doesn't go to Buffy during the whole flight. In fact, it's only in the nest issue that Buffy and Willow talk about Satsu. So yes, Buffy has felt lonely in the previous issues, but she had Xander to talk about them and he told her the harsh truth a couple of times. Here though, she doesn't just *feel* alone. She *is* alone.

As to Dracula, Xander and Andrew. They were pretty funny. It's amazing, but I seem to like Andrew a lot more in comic book format. But maybe that's because it takes fewer minutes to read his comments than to hear him, hahaha. Renee's reaction was a mirror to mine though. But it was a funny scene. As was Renee's glare towards Xander, hahaha.

Thanks.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th July 2011 23:37 (UTC)
Re: (Review) BtVS 8.13 'Wolves at the Gate' Part 2

Thanks :)

I'm almost certain that Drew Goddard threw that "my very soul!" line in there without actually thinking through the implications, but it's still the kind of slip-up that can spark a thousand fan theories and fics.

On the C-5: I did have to research it, I didn't know the cost off the top of my head. :)

Good point about Buffy's "apocalypse mode", but I also think she's under more pressure - and thus harsher - because she's dealing with so many followers rather than just having to take responsibility for herself.

Willow didn't go straight away to Buffy, but remember they're still kind of estranged after 'Anywhere But Here'; and Willow is possibly still hurt by discovering Buffy's got herself into a lesbian relationship without even telling her supposed best friend, who is herself gay, about it. And she thinks Satsu needs support, while Buffy is big enough to take care of herself. (Compare her going to help Faith, not Buffy, in 'Turbulence'.)

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