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Review of Buffy 8.02 'The Long Way Home Part 2'

5th April 2007 (23:10)

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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 quote

elisi, 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).

Comments

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 06:43 (UTC)
Fanfic by kathyh

OK, I was getting ready to say something sensible, and this you hit me with this:

I know certain members of my flist will be praying "Please let it be them naked in bed together. Please let it..." :)
And all I can do is giggle helplessly! (But wouldn't it be *awesome*?)

Lots of good points, and as for this:

And who's the mysterious man in her dream?
From looks alone (slender, black coat) I'd say Spike, but given the way half the characters are unrecognisable... it could be anyone. But my first guess would be Spike. Second guess - Angel.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 15:44 (UTC)

You do realise that you are one of the "certain members of my flist" I was talking about, don't you? :)

I'm not convinced the man in the coat is Spike or Angel or even anyone we know - he seemed too sinister. (Although I did wonder "Is it the Immortal, come to get revenge for Buffy and Andrew's lies?") Then again, it could be a distorted nightmare image of Spike...

Posted by: Mrs Darcy (elisi)
Posted at: 7th April 2007 22:08 (UTC)
Spike battle by spikeshunny

You do realise that you are one of the "certain members of my flist" I was talking about, don't you? :)
Oh yes! And I'm proud of it too! ;)

he seemed too sinister.
Didn't strike me that way - I think it's mostly that we can't see his face.

Oh and this icon illustrates beautifully one reason why the comics will never really be canon. (It's a coincidence that it's Spike btw. If I had an animated one of Buffy I'd have used that instead.)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 08:49 (UTC)

Andrew and the no-guns sounded like an issue who's time will come. One reason I suppose Slayers might be wise to eschew guns is that they they're less effective on demons than on innocent bystanders who could be caught in the crossfire but having no guns as a blanket rule does lead to ridculousnesses like Buffy holding the Initiative hostage with a mini-crossbow.

The demon that Buffy knew looked like the beautiful sunset ones from last week but was also Amy and someone on whedonesque thought it was the fireness recalling burning chosen hands etc that was significant but that seemed a stretch. I'm in two minds about the true love's kiss spell-breaker on the one hand it would be very dumb evil-overlord of Amy to explain herself to Xander so explicitly if she were telling the truth but on the other I suspect Amy doesn't particularly care whether she take's out Buffy or not so long as she gets a crack at Willow.

Dream Xander kissage I thought meant Buffy had been thinking about it in spite of herself, hence dream Xander's hesitaiton (he is the only man in a castle o' chicks and it's been some years, a long time when you're young). But then it seemed to morph into a more general call back to issues with Parker and Riley and overall I think the dream isn't so much focussed on romantic issues but the belief that she's responsible for everything bad and dark in her world that introduced the dream.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 15:50 (UTC)

The demon that Buffy knew looked like the beautiful sunset ones from last week
It's not a very close resemblance, though. With the rock-like skin and fire-affinity I did wonder if it's the Beast from Angel S4, but Buffy would only know about him if she's discussed it with Faith.

on the one hand it would be very dumb evil-overlord of Amy to explain herself to Xander so explicitly if she were telling the truth but on the other I suspect Amy doesn't particularly care

In 'The Killer in Me' Amy didn't seem too bothered about explaining to Willow what sort of spell she'd cast on her, either. My impression is that she's more malevolently mischevious than outright evil - a bit like Ethan Rayne, in fact. (Could he be the mysterious boyfriend? Nah...) After all, she was once Buffy's friend, though we don't know how badly living in the ruins of Sunnydale for months twisted her, and how much she blames Buffy for it.

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 18:26 (UTC)

It's not a very close resemblance, though.
It really isn't, that was just my first thought while still impressed that Joss hd managed to link the army and mystical plots already. Just a generic demon, they're reptiles and they're reptiles and they're reptiles...

Amy also not so great with the foresight (turning yourself into a rat without leaving an antidote spell, not the best idea in retrospect). Still I think it's Willow she blames for that and more reasonably for bringing Sunnydale and the First down. I suspect she thinks Buffy is just the muscle.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 09:52 (UTC)

See, I said we would get naked Dawn. Now let's just get Andrew to relocate to Scotland and... OK, I'll stop.

Even more interestingly, at what point do we segue from reality to dream? Is the conversation in the corridor real life?

Funnily enough, I was just watching "Apocalypse, Nowish" yesterday, and it does the exact same thing with Connor and Cordelia; heartfelt talk, complete with exposition for those just tuning in, and then *wham* it turns out to be a dream. My interpretation is that it's either a memory of a talk they *did* have... or, perhaps more interestingly, one Buffy knows they should have. This would mean that a) Buffy's well aware of the things Xander brings up and is, in classic Slayer tradition, trying to avoid dealing with them, and b) that Buffy's subconscious sees Xander as the voice of reason who would bring this up. (Which might be bad news for B/X shippers, since "honest and good judge of character" was never high on her checklist for potential love interests...)

Scottish zombies in kilts and tam o'shanters!!! I have nothing to add to that.

I have: might the observation that they can't be killed by destroying the head be a nod to Return of the Living Dead? *crickets chirp* Yeah, I got nothing.

But I do have this: I get the feeling we're going to have problems with the Slayer power itself this season. Buffy's comment that she IS the dark and she's afraid of it, some of the junior Slayers' dissatisfaction with fighting with "medieval junk" (and doesn't that girl look an awful lot like Tank Girl?)... I think we're going to have dissention in the ranks, both outer and inner.

Oh, and the kiss of true love? Well, Willow's right there... ;-)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 11:44 (UTC)

Oh, and the "I know you" thing: am I overreading things, or does that big monster have the same exact facial qualities that a vampire does? The evil yellow eyes, the slightly simian nose, the fangs... oh, and the spiky hair... OK, I'm gonna stop it.

I liked this bit:
BUFFY: One slayer fighting alone is formidable. Two is formidabler, or... three? Mega-formidable. And after mega, it goes to mondo, then super, hyper, beaucoup d', crazy, stupid... it gets exponentially prefixy.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 15:54 (UTC)

Which might be bad news for B/X shippers, since "honest and good judge of character" was never high on her checklist for potential love interests...)
Spike?
Post-redemption Faith? :)

Speaking of:
Oh, and the kiss of true love? Well, Willow's right there... ;-)

I wonder if the limits on what Joss can get away with regarding slash, explicit sex, violence etc are different in comics as compared to TV... and in which direction?

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 16:55 (UTC)

Well, I don't see Joss going completely Wiffy on us, but a thought: with Willow as powerful as she supposedly is now, it'll be a lot easier to add drama to the plot if Buffy and her aren't 100% on good terms (after all, with the most powerful wicca yada yada yada in your corner, you can pretty much do what you want). So what if Willow wakes her with a kiss, and they both realize just what that means and things become very awkward between them, and... and I really need to lay off the femslash bit, don't I?

As for what Joss can get away with, Dark Horse did publish Sin City, so... though I honestly don't see the Buffy comics going R-rated. My guess is that near-nudity is as far as he'll take it, and that the slash will stay as it was on the show: mostly tongue-in-cheek (and boy, does THAT phrase sound dirty in that context...) which means Willow could in theory wake Buffy with a kiss, but I don't see them running off together to tour with the Lilith Fair.

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 12:25 (UTC)
Xander by moscow_watcher

I loved Renee too, hope she's not dead. :(

I really love the voices of the characters in the comin, haven't read it all yet but the Xander-Dawn scene is my favorite. I think this issue is better than the first. So many wists, so many character issues, so many shocking moments, and best of all no annoying spoilers. Everything was fresh. :)

I thought it was cute when Willow worded Giles' sentence as he stopped her in Two to Go.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 15:57 (UTC)

the Xander-Dawn scene is my favorite
I liked the way Xander slipped a song lyric into his conversation; oddly enough, pop-culture references seem to be something many fanfics leave out, even though they were crucial to the show.

And yes, it does make it better when you come to the comic unspoiled...

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 12:35 (UTC)

and I continue to find Andrew not nearly as funny as Joss thinks he is. Sorry.

Followed the link from Elisi's LJ and would just like to say, a man after my own heart.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 6th April 2007 15:59 (UTC)

:)

I don't mind Andrew so much when he's being a foil for the other characters - Buffy holding a knife to his throat at the climax of 'Storyteller' was an excellent scene, and I also enjoyed Willow threatening him outside the butcher's shop (hmm... notice a common theme here?): but not when he's the focus of the scene.

Posted by: Shapinglight (shapinglight)
Posted at: 9th April 2007 10:51 (UTC)

Same here. I had to grit my teeth really hard to get through his scenes in both Damage and TGiQ.

I think my favourite ever Andrew scene is the one where Xander and Anya go all good cop/bad cop on him - but that's more because it's the last ever great Xander/Anya scene.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 7th April 2007 18:48 (UTC)

"I know you"... any ideas?

I thought it was the manifestation of one of the demons Buffy killed in the church in the first issue. Since her nightmare is induced by Amy who works for the New!Initiative who in turn experimented with these demons in the church - the connection is quite possible.

And who's the mysterious man in her dream?

Joss with an evil smirk on his face.

Posted by: lilred26x (lilred26x)
Posted at: 10th April 2007 00:06 (UTC)

I really enjoyed your review! You noticed so many more things than I did. Now I've got to reread both comics! I've added you as a friend, so that I can keep up with future reviews, icons, etc. Hope that's okay!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th April 2007 18:37 (UTC)

Sure, and welcome!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th April 2007 18:39 (UTC)
Re: from newly_legion

Since any Spike/Angel scene is likely to be in Buffy's dream, we'll have to see whether her subconscious works in the same way as most of fandom's...

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 11th April 2007 19:05 (UTC)

At the moment it gives me that early S4 or S7 feel. Promising but with flaws. I hope it gets better but like both seasons I feel it will go off the rails. JW seems still to tied to old characters and motifs and won't let things go.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th April 2007 20:17 (UTC)

Problem is, for everything that one person sees as a tired old theme he should drop, there's soeone else who'll say "that's the essence of Buffy and the only reason I watched the show." So he can't win...

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 11th April 2007 20:38 (UTC)

True. But I feel that in later seasons he pandered to the fans rather than the other way around. Despite his protestations.Hence Andrew and Spike being around despite logic. Lots of fans want him to bring Tara back. Problem is this devalues death on the show, especially natural death.

The problem with recycling themes is that after a while it breaks even a genre fans suspension of disbelief. I mean how long the crew served together on the Enterprise staying the same rank.:-) Or Scully kept on denying the supernatural despite years of evidence to the contrary. By trying to hang on you doom the show. Joss did this by keeping characters around because he liked the actors. From interviews we know that both Spike and Tara were around for longer than intended as was Anya.

He could possibly explore new themes or have characters interact differently. For example not address the Spike or Angel issue at all. It had plenty nay too much screen time in the series as it was. Maybe spend time on all the characters neglected in S7. Although to be fair so far in the comic he does seem to be doing this so I give him points for that.

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 10th April 2008 07:18 (UTC)

Hey, Stormwreath, I was wondering about the pictures in frames hung on Buffy's bedroom wall. So far I noticed two. Do you know what are they?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th April 2008 15:19 (UTC)

The small boy is 'Little Nemo' a classic comic character created in 1905 by Winsor McCay: he was a young boy who experienced various odd adventures in his dreams. (aycheb spotted that reference.)

As for the large picture of a woman in Elizabethan dress holding a crucifix, I think it's supposed to be Mary, Queen of Scots. (Doing a google image search on her name produces some similar-looking portraits). She ended up having her head cut off, just like Xander does in Buffy's dream...

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