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(Meta) Andrew Wells outs himself as a Spuffy

7th March 2009 (16:26)

For the benefit of members of my flist who don't read the comics but are still interested to see the first mention of Spike by name since episode 7.22, a scan of the panel is below the cut. I've also copied over my theories on what Buffy's expression means from my earlier review of issue 8.23. For context, Andrew and Buffy are about to go into battle, and Andrew's worried he might not survive; in the previous panel, he was apologising to Buffy for deceiving her about something earlier - to which her reply was "Seriously? This seems like the time?"



Thse are my reasons, from the review:

1. The simple mention of those names got to her, because she thinks Spike is dead. (Or does she???)

2. The idea that Andrew is passing judgement on something so personal to her shocks her. After all, Buffy herself knows nothing of the shipper wars waged in her name by fandom.

3. It is, I suppose, possible that she didn't know that Andrew had met Angel, and was shocked by learning this. That would give comfort to the people who think Andrew lied in 'Damage' about having received his orders from Buffy. This episode itself also supports that, by showing that Andrew is capable of coming up with elaborate schemes and not telling Buffy about them.

4. Buffy is shocked by the affirmation of her relationship with Spike by a third party. Remember, in Season 6 she was bitterly ashamed of herself for sleeping with him; in Season 7 she was extremely defensive about him, and had to endure the suspicion and hostility of Xander and Dawn, Willow pushing her towards Robin Wood instead, and Giles's murderous betrayal of him. It's hardly surprising that Buffy might conclude that nobody else would ever understand or support her feelings for him... and now to hear Andrew not only accepting her relationship with Spike but saying that Spike was better for her than Angel was... well, I think those are words that Buffy never thought to hear from anyone.

There's also 5) She was reacting to his comment about people hating her hairstyle, not his comment on her lovelife, and eowyn_315 suggested that she's simply shocked he's still wasting time on this when they should be heading into battle.

I'll also note that some people are suggesting that her reaction isn't surprise at all, it's blank, emotionless disinterest and therefore, presumably, proof that Buffy is now utterly bored and uninterested by the thought of either Spike or Angel. What I'd say to that is:

1. The fact that Buffy stands stock-still for two entire panels, her expression fixed and unchanged while Andrew blithely goes about his business in the background, is significant. Comic books are short enough as it is; no writer would waste a quarter of a page on something like this unless they meant to draw attention to it; and no self-respecting artist would draw a figure in the exact same pose twice in a row unless it was important to the story (or they were lazy and on a really tight deadline). This is how comics show someone freezing in shock, or needing time to process an unexpected idea.

2. Look at Buffy's expression, expecially compared to how Jeanty draws her face elsewhere in the comic. Her eyes are much larger and rounder than normal. Her eyebrows are arched. Despite being silent, her mouth is open.

In my experience, an open-mouthed wide-eyed expression is generally considered indicative of "surprise", not "apathy". :-)


Anyway, here's a quiz for you all. One thing about the comic artwork is that there are two 'categories' of drawings. In some panels, the artist does a close-up of their face showing lots of fine detail. In others, usually when there's action going on or the viewpoint 'camera' is far back to show more of the background, the faces are sketched in much more abstractly and the people's expressions simplified. The panel above is the second type. Since there's been some controversy over exactly what expression Buffy's supposed to have, I've scanned in several more pictures of her from the same comic showing her from the ame angle and rlevel of detail. Personally, I'm quite impressed by how her emotional state can be judged quite well from each picture despite its relatively small size and simplicity; but see what you think...

For each picture, can you state what Buffy's emotional state is meant to be? Or if you prefer, tell us what thought you think is going through her mind at each moment.

1.   2.    3.    4.    5.    6.    7.    8.    9.  

My own answer is in the comments.


Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 17:11 (UTC)

And my answers are:

1. "Buh?"
2. "You cannot be... what... huh?"
3. "I am quite pissed off at the moment so do not push me."
4. "I am angry and impatient."
5. "Go get 'em, guys!"
6. "No way in hell. We do this my way."
7. "Grrr. Sassn'frassn'rassn'."
8. "Oh, for heaven's sake, Andrew, SHUT UP!"
9. "Waugh! What the fuck?!"

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 17:13 (UTC)

It looks to me as if she's in "Buh? What brought THAT on?" mode, since, you gotta admit, it's kind of a random thing for Andrew to bring up under the circumstances. At least from her point of view, if we presume that she doesn't know Spike is alive.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 17:16 (UTC)

I sort of agree with you, except I think her reaction is too prolonged for it to be purely a matter of her being surprised he brought it up. Andrew has been prattling on about completely irrelevant things the entire journey, so I'd think Buffy would be used to it by now if that's all it was.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 17:52 (UTC)

And for a moment Andrew has to take the lead. Which sort of lends support to your reading that this has taken her aback somehow.

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 17:22 (UTC)

That's meant to be Buffy????

Posted by: Randall Randall (randallsquared)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 17:51 (UTC)

Yeah... it's Jeanty. :( It's not going to keep me from buying them all, so I'm not going to have any effect on his career, but I really wish they'd chosen someone who could draw a recognizable SMG.

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 20:43 (UTC)

Looking at pictures 4, 5 & 9, someone who could draw a recognisable female human might have been a start... :~)

Edited at 2009-03-07 20:44 (UTC)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 18:31 (UTC)

I tend to read it like you. Now the interpretation is another thing. If you pay attention you'll see little nuances between the two images: position of the head (in the lower one, Buffy's head is more inclined towards Andrew), position of the eyebrow , colour of the eye, the mouth slightly more open in the lower image: so I read it like that Buffy gobsmacked with a little shadow of sadness (the eyebrow falling)then absorbed. Though I don't like Jeanty's style I agree he is skilled at transcribing feelings.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 19:04 (UTC)

You're right, there are subtle differences; I'd read it as pure surprise in the first, becoming wistful in the second.

But maybe that's wishful thinking. :-)

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 18:34 (UTC)
Xacula by beer_good_foamy

In the second panel (of the page, not the snapshots) Buffy looks as if she escaped from 'Peanuts'...

And now I'm imagining trying to cross over those two 'verses and my head is doing strange things.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 19:05 (UTC)

Oh dear. How long before you write the fic?


Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 19:06 (UTC)
My Immortal by ruuger


Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 18:36 (UTC)

some people are suggesting that her reaction isn't surprise at all, it's blank, emotionless disinterest and therefore, presumably, proof that Buffy is now utterly bored and uninterested by the thought of either Spike or Angel.

I never said that. I meant that it's a neutral face - indicating no particular strong emotion of any kind, whether boredom or shock. It's the face of an athlete about to run the 100-yard dash, or the face of a soldier focussing on the task at hand.

The funny thing is, you do have a point about the eyes, and as erratic as Jeanty is I could imagine it being surprise - especially eowyn's interpretation of it - if the text supported it at all. Perhaps it's just poor directing on Greenberg's part; Jeanty figured she would be surprised by that revelation, but Greenberg just threw it in for a laugh and didn't think much of it. But if what Andrew says is such a surprise to her - for whatever reason - why doesn't it come up in any way at all again? If she's indeed in "shock", does it last for the rest of the issue? Why make a big deal of it if it's so promptly forgotten? When Buffy has already taken him to task for keeping secrets once, why would she ignore a bombshell like this if it's indeed a bombshell?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 19:14 (UTC)

I'm not claiming it's a massive life-changing revelation of immense proportions, though. After all, nothing in the text is news, as such; Andrew doesn't say "I've seen Spike, he's still alive!" or anything like that. He just tells her he thought Spike was better for her than Angel. Buffy, in turn, has a strong emotional reaction to this; she's taken aback, rendered speechless for a long moment.

The fact that she doesn't discuss her feelings with Andrew afterwards is hardly a sign that it wasn't an important moment for her. Since when does Buffy discuss her deepest emotional vulnerabilities with anybody, except rarely with Angel, Spike, or Willow, and more rarely with Xander?

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 19:28 (UTC)

After all, nothing in the text is news, as such

Exactly. Hence no need for wide-eyed shock and catatonia lasting a full minute.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 01:56 (UTC)

She didn't learn new information about Spike, by the looks of it.

She did, however, suffer some sort of emotional impact by hearing Andrew talking about him in that way.

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 10:14 (UTC)
From Buffyforums...

For what it's worth,Scott Allie has been doing a question and answer session over at Slayalive since the issue came out on Wed. and here are his comments on this.


"5. bamph: Are we supposed to read anything more into Andrew's line about having met Angel and liking Spike more because he's edgier? Buffy doesn't have a reaction really. She gives a weird look after the whole thing including Andrew's comments about liking when her hair was cut. So should we infer anything from that about how much details Buffy knows about the events of Angel season 5 and Andrew's meetings in Damage and TGIQ with Angel and Spike or is this just a throwaway jokey line to once again show Andrew has fan crush on Spike? Was there any real purpose to that bit other than for a little joke to break tension before the showdown with Simone and to acknowledge fan expectations of a Angel/Spike mention in a issue featuring Buffy and Andrew teamed up in Italy?

Scott Allie: I think you're reading more into it than you need to, but I do think you can assume that there's been conversations about this stuff that you haven't heard. But I think what this was here was Andrew thinking it might be the end for him, and wanting to tell Buffy everything of consequence that he hadn't yet had the chance to tell her."

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 18:40 (UTC)

Now that I've seen it laid out, I can see where the "shell-shocked" interpretation comes from. However - and this may just be my dislike of comics in general and Jeanty's drawings in particular - I really would have preferred an image of her with more detail in her expression. It seems to me she's surprised, but as you've illustrated, she could have that reaction for any number of reasons, and I'd like a little less ambiguity. In fact, I've thought of an explanation that fits my "you're still going on about this?" even with a two-panel stare:

Buffy doesn't move or say anything because she's waiting to see if Andrew's really done this time, and once he says they should go, she realizes he is.

As for your quiz:

1. "Huh?"
2. "Say what?"
3. "Red 8 on black 9. Now if I only had a red queen..."
4. "Die, vampire!"
5. "Get the fuck out of my way!"
6. "I have a bad feeling about this."
7. "I slept funny last night and I can't turn my head."
8. "Ow. I think I have a concussion."
9. "Aaagggghhhhh!"

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 19:14 (UTC)

:-) <--- reaction to your answers.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 21:24 (UTC)

1. Did we leave the keys in the car?
2. I really think we left the keys in the car.
3. Damn. We're never gonna see that beautiful car again.
4. We're gonna have to freakin' hitchhike back to Rome!
5. Andrew, you absentminded...
6. Wait a minute...
7. I think the keys are right here in my pocket.
8. Whew. I couldn't have handled all that walkin on top of...
9. Ewww, Andrew, why are the keys all sticky???

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 10:58 (UTC)

If the keys are sticky from being in *her* pocket, why's she asking Andrew?

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 13:41 (UTC)

Because of the Growing Darkness within her. It's always someone else's fault...

Posted by: skipp_of_ark (skipp_of_ark)
Posted at: 7th March 2009 21:46 (UTC)

I think it could also be interpreted as a bit of meta on the writer's part. Consider that there are some fans so fixated on the events of Damage and The Girl in Question, and whether or not Buffy knows about what happened (did she really give Andrew those orders?) or whether or not she knows if Spike (or Angel) is alive, that they have exhibited no interest whatsoever in the story actually being told, to the point that sometimes they expect/demand Joss bring the story to a screeching halt just to address those things.

It's possibe that having Andrew launch into his "Team Spike" spiel, followed by a comment on her short hair-cut of a couple of seasons past, followed by Buffy momentarily staring at him speechlessly, then moving right along with the story already in progress, might be a way to suggest that, seriously, there might be things Joss considers more important to the story of the Season. Or I could be wrong.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 01:59 (UTC)

Interesting idea.

I generally don't think that the writers are quite as cynical as that, or as involved in fan controversy as the fans themselves like to think. Biut it's certainly an interesting interpretation. :-)

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 01:35 (UTC)

It might mean any of those, and until the writer chooses to clarify, they're all possible interpretations.

"Can't this guy shut up? Not even when in danger of dying?"

"Angel? When did he meet Angel?"

"Who does he think he is, commenting on my love life?"

"Finally, someone who understands..."

"Finally, someone who understands... Wait... It's Andrew. Oh god, what have I done?"

All valid. Personally, I think these panels won't really be referenced again, giving readers the freedom to interpret them as they please.

And no, without more clues I have a hard time saying what emotional state Buffy's going through.

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 02:54 (UTC)
Buffy Failure

Now I haven't read #23 yet nor read your own interpretation but here goes.

1. Stunned
2. Even more stunned in a "wha huh?" way
3. Worried and concerned.
4. Stern and serious. Either castigating an enemy or goading a co-worker to toughen up.
5. Aggressive and serious. Yelling orders.
6. Quiet and proud. Head held high, dignified stubborness.
7. Embarrassed. Chagrined. Frustrated.
8. Sad and weary.
9. Shocked. Instantly surprised.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 11:12 (UTC)

Not bad at all. :-) In #9 she's actually yelling angrily at Andrew; but the rest are pretty close.

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 10:11 (UTC)

Err, isn't all this redundant now as Allie has said nothing of great importance should be read into that panel?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 11:02 (UTC)

But he didn't say that, did he? (If you're talking about the Slayalive comment you've quoted). bamph came up with an elaborate question referencing 'Damage' and 'The Girl In Question', and Scott said he was overthinking it. In other words, you don't need to have memorised the plot of 'Angel' Season 5 to understand the references in that scene. But that doesn't mean that it was unimportant in itself.

"Here was Andrew thinking it might be the end for him, and wanting to tell Buffy everything of consequence that he hadn't yet had the chance to tell her."

"Everything of consequence" does not equal "nothing of great importance."

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 11:48 (UTC)
Capt Jack seriously?!!

But it really isn't imo. They whole thing is even framed to hint to the reader that there's anything more then what Allies stated. It's just Andrew getting some stuff of his chest as the little idiot thinks he's about to croak.

None of whats been said by him is important to Buffy or her arc. As said above It's just a fun shout out by the writers, and nothing else.

I really, really think that once again you're in danger of reading far, far too much into sections of this comic. Seeing more meaning then there actually is.

Edited at 2009-03-08 11:51 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 12:54 (UTC)

Whereas I'm getting the impression you've decided in advance that the comic is never going to say anything meaningful about Spike, so you're actively looking for reasons to dismiss this scene as unimportant.

Reviews - and literature criticism in general - are all about teasing out meanings that the author may not (consciously) have put there, sure. But the meme I've seen floating around that the comics are just mindless fluff thrown together with no deep thought behind them is just wrong. I don't know if you saw Jane Espenson's interview on the issue she wrote, but she highlighted two little throw-away scenes - Harmony trying to get into the nightclub and her choice of Anderson Cooper as the newsreader at the end - and went into a fair bit of detail on why she chose those particular situations and what they meant for the overall story and what their deeper symbolism was. I've got no reason to believe that a similar amount of thought doesn't go into all the other scenes in th ecomics.

Or tl;dr version: I'm not reading any more - or any less - into the comics than people are always reading into the TV shows.

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 13:00 (UTC)

"Whereas I'm getting the impression you've decided in advance that the comic is never going to say anything meaningful about Spike, so you're actively looking for reasons to dismiss this scene as unimportant."

Nope I'm just basing it one what I've read so far, and how the series appears to be shaping up. This series is not about Buffy's old 'dead' relationships, it's about her use, misuse of power. About what it is to be Slayer after the events of Chosen, and what that appears to mean for mankind.

Imo what she does/does not think about Spike is completely irrelevant to the plot.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 12:45 (UTC)

29. I am curious though, seeing various reactions around the net if Buffy's reaction (non-reaction?) was also being played for laughs? It's difficult to tell by her expression, but the fact that she doesn't say anything, made me think it was just Buffy having a typical "Oh this is so Andrew" kind of reaction - much as I imagine she was during his many random rambles during their trip. But are we supposed to see some deeper non-verbal response from Buffy on this considering it sort of lingers on her for 2 panels? Shock or confusion or just thinking Andrew's kinda weird....

Scott Allie: What Andrew said was both more for and about Andrew than anyone else, so I don't think any response was called for, or, really, possible.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 11:00 (UTC)

I think it's "Buh?" on both panels.

Because Jeanty's Buffy is a very bad actress. She always overacts. So, be it surprise or astonishment she'd throw up her hands, or clasp her hands or did something else very actor-y.

I miss SMG.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 11:08 (UTC)

I've just looked back through the issue, and I'm afraid I can't really see what you're saying; none of her gestures look particularly out of place. Most of the pictures I iconised here don't involve gestures, just facial expressions.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 11:34 (UTC)

In previous issues Jeanty!Buffy conveys strong emotions either with gestures or with serious overacting.


On this panel she doesn't react at all.

I think it was throwaway joke, really.

Posted by: sueworld2003 (sueworld2003)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 11:50 (UTC)
Buffy wank

"I think it was throwaway joke, really."

I agree, even allowing for Jeanty's usual fughly art there's nothing there that flags to the reader to take it anymore seriously then that.

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 18:17 (UTC)

Aww, snagging the second icon, she looks adorably lost in that one. Poor Buffy.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 18:20 (UTC)

It's not an icon - but I can easily make it an icon, if you want.

(I may demand a payment, though. I'll PM you) :)

Posted by: ms_scarletibis (ms_scarletibis)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 15:52 (UTC)
Thoughtful Spike

Should it mean something that not only did he say that Spike was better (for Buffy), but that he also mentions her season six hair cut, where there was a misuse of power on her part in regards to Spike? I mean, coupled with the fact that she might believe him dead, and her current situation, that had to have struck a nerve...She looks shocked to me.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 18:52 (UTC)

Possibly. Like I said above, I think some of these interpretations are stretching authorial intent a little (I doubt Drew Greenberg really thought "I'll refer to her Season 6 hair to reference her abuse of power!"); but then again, reading things into other things is half the fun of fandom. :-)

Posted by: ms_scarletibis (ms_scarletibis)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 18:57 (UTC)
Thoughtful Spike

Not just the "abuse of power" thing, but I've also come to realize that the haircut referenced is the haircut of "Spike endearment rebellion." And thinking about that while pondering "Spike's better than Angel" had to have been an overload of sorts, I'd think ;)

Then again, on the surface, the last things that Andrew wants to discuss before his possible demise are Spike (and really, not surprised) and which hairstyle he thought looked best on Buffy is in and of itself funny, and a very Andrew-like thing to say.

Posted by: dorians_kitten (dorians_kitten)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 17:47 (UTC)

I find it particularly frustrating that he uses the past tense while talking about Spike "He was so much edgier". If he'd just used the present tense it would have answered the "does she know he's alive/undead" question, but no....no...arghh!!!!

That said, I recently mentioned that I'd be happy just to see Spike's name in the comic, so *shrugs* I'm gonna be glad that he was at least acknowledged.

Buffy should spend lots more time with Andrew.

Edited at 2009-03-08 17:48 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 18:55 (UTC)

Buffy should spend lots more time with Andrew.

*Buffy glares pointedly at you and shakes her head firmly*
*Then looks a little guilty about that, but doesn't change her mind.*

Posted by: itsmrgordotoyou (itsmrgordotoyou)
Posted at: 8th March 2009 20:58 (UTC)

Just looking at the expressions, NOT the context in the issue:

1. "..." (ie, too surprised to know what to think)
2. "...!" (#1 after it's sunk in a little more, but before the return to a verbal state)
3. "You're trying my patience."
4. "I'm gonna fucking kill you!"
5. "C'mon, guys, let's get 'em!" (she definitely looks to be calling to someone to one side or behind her)
6. "Oh, this can't be good."
7. "Your evil scheme has pissed me off, but I'm putting a stop to it."
8. "Okay, that didn't work."
9. "Hold on, I'm coming!"

Not always what was intended, but not too far off either. And they all look like Buffy except *maybe* #8. I don't share the apparently widespread contempt for Jeanty. A few panels or even pages have struck me as failures, but in general I'm satisfied with him.

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