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So, I dropped into Forbidden Planet on my way home from work this evening and bought the very last issue of the Buffy comic #2 off the shelf. On its first day of release. :) One hopes they get more stock in...
Initial reaction : I liked it, but not quite as much as the first one. The story line seemed a bit disjointed, and the representations of the characters seem inconsistent at times. Still, there are some good lines, some plot twists, more set-up... and Joss's most blatant tweaking yet of Buffy/whoever 'shippers... I'll rate it Decent.
Excessive amounts of spoilers continue beneath the cut...
Still with me? OK.
I liked the opening shot being just a close-up of a cup of tea, telling us immediately who the character being introduced was. (Side-note: the BBC's first screening of 'Bargaining' was edited down to a PG rating, and so Spike's description of Giles's life became "Cup of tea, cup of tea... cup of tea." Which is really sad for him. :) Now he's onto his fourth cup of tea, and still no sign of a shag...
The three opening montages were an interesting concept, even if the characters were, to quoteelisi, almost unrecognisable. The blonde girl in the top panel of page 5 is simply nothing like Buffy, in any way, shape or form - although her voice is right, and the action shots of her are a little better. I was a bit confused about the ninja in the fight sequence on Giles's spread, and it took me a second read-through to realise they were Slayers wearing hoods, presumably as a team (OpFor) uniform. Incidentally, does anyone recognise the location? It looks Russian, but I don't know if it's a specific place. I'm guessing the large onion-domed church is not actually St Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, since that would be a little too public...
Other notes on this sequence: I liked the continuing conversation and the insight into training methods; I liked Buffy's dialogue; and I continue to find Andrew not nearly as funny as Joss thinks he is. Sorry.
Incidentally, Andrew's so adamant about Slayers never carrying a gun, and doesn't give a proper reason - I wonder how this jibes with last issue where Buffy was using a forcefield zapper, her team used spear-guns, and she ended the first scene cradling an M-16 in her hands. Inconsistency, or Joss letting us know that Andrew's an idiot? You decide...
Leah, Satsu and Rowena get a second mention after appearing in the first issue as well, so it looks like they're going to be recurring characters. Which is good, even if they don't really have much personality as yet. I wonder when the first fics featuring them will appear?
Gratuitous naked Dawn! Yay! OK, she looks nothing like Michelle Trachtenberg, but that seems to be par for the course now. Although I will say that the artist manages to keep the characters consistent (mostly: see above re Buffy for an exception) so I suppose eventually I'll get used to it. Unless they bring in a new artist and completely change the characters' appearance again...
On first reading I kind of missed the significance of the two Government men's conversation, because I was trying to work out what was sinister about a recycling company... but yeah, they're telling us that they've located Buffy's secret base and Amy will be breaking in there that very night, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise to meet her next scene. (But it did...) And the general is one of the Beautiful Sunset cult, eh? Wonder if this means the cult is US government-backed, or a rogue (international?) organisation. Since they seem high-tech and nominally on the side of good (although treating the Slayers as terrorists) I'm going to speculate that they're the people behind the robot ninja commandos that invaded Wolfram & Hart in 'Lineage'...
Xander's insight into the Dawn situation was a good one (although I felt the wording was a bit clumsy: the scene had too much of an "As you know, Bob..." feel to it). Of course we don't know if his theory is true... and of course, this sort of spell is actually Amy's modus operandi (see 'Killer in Me') which makes me wonder now if she was involved. Alternatively, Dawn is now a great big (sorry) nod to the people who liked early BtVS with its theme of metaphors made flesh... she's fed up of being ignored so is now impossible to ignore...
Right: now for the interesting bit. Buffy propositioning Xander threw me completely for a loop, and I bet it has many other people too. Especially with the implication that it's not the first time ("I'll be gentle this time. I can be gentle" - dialogue which, incidentally, I'd just like to highlight as note-perfect Buffyspeak). Millions of Spike and Angel fans cry out in anguish, and then fall silent... (well, until they start writing LiveJournal posts by the thousand).
I can buy it though... she's lonely, both Xander and Buffy are currently single, they're old friends, and he's apparently the only man in a castle full of teenage girls... it seems pretty clear that it's more of a clothes fluke than a serious relationship, though. If it's even real, and not just Buffy's subconscious getting horny.
Because then we realise it's actually a dream. Or even a nightmare - at first I thought 'prophetic Slayerdream' until we got the revelation that it's actually Amy's doing. So does that mean that sleeping with Xander is nightmare material for Buffy? Even more interestingly, at what point do we segue from reality to dream? Is the conversation in the corridor real life? In which case, Buffy's question is also real life, and the nightmare-spell catches her when she steps through the door to her room. Note how the style of the artwork also changes to a much simpler, cartoon style once she's in her bedroom - I think that was deliberate to show that we're no longer in realityville.
Alternatively, the corridor conversation might be Buffy's memory from earlier - perhaps much earlier - rather than real-time, and not necessarily an accurate portrayal... certainly, when Xander interrupts Amy's sacrifice he's dressed in completely different clothes. (Well, for certain values of clothes which include "yellow Tweetie-Pie pyjamas").
"I know you"... any ideas? Of course we learn that it's actually Amy talking to Buffy, but in context it looks like she recognises the demon impaling her.
I did like the sequence with the sacrificial dagger... good and in-character dialogue from Amy as she stabbed Buffy, and the reveal on the next page caught me out. Also, Amy's become seriously powerful... although I notice her eyes haven't turned black (yet).
And now we get Joss Tweaking the 'Shippers part two, with the revelation that only a kiss from someone who loves Buffy passionately and truly (and not 'as a sister') can wake her. Hmm. I wonder who will get the honour? :) Perhaps we should hold a sweepstake?
And who's the mysterious man in her dream? Amy's "boyfriend"?? (If so, note that he has skin)
Scottish zombies in kilts and tam o'shanters!!! I have nothing to add to that.
I've mentioned the introduction of the three Slayers in Buffy's own team as recurring characters, but now Renée has to be added to the list - possibly. We've only seen her so far in a handful of pages, but already I feel I know (and like) her character; I understand her personality and her interest in Xander. So it's rather a shame she gets run through by a zombie's sword on the antepenultimate page. A nicely understated moment follows with one Slayer desperately asking Xander for orders, and he's clutching his brow unable to speak, as one of his screens shows Renée's face (unconscious or dead) in the corner. I hope she gets better... :)
Incidentally, I wonder if "Orders, sir? Orders?" is a deliberate homage to Lt Gorman's panic in 'Aliens' during the fight under the reactor?
And finally our closing image. Yay! (That's like 'squee!' but less girly ;) ). Re-use of lines from the show could get old if overdone, but this time it just worked; and it's a nice insight into Willow's character that she feels comfortable now quoting Giles's words to her at her darkest moment. I also wonder if it's just a coincidence that she appears to be wearing a version of Tara's outfit from 'Once More With Feeling'... perhaps the idea is to portray the image "good witch"?
Regardless, I get the strong impression from that last picture that The Most Powerful Wicca in the Western Hemisphere got her self-confidence back... and I can't wait to see what happens next.
...although apparently, 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..." :)
So there we go: episode 8.02. As I said, I rate it 'decent' (but improving on re-reading).