StephenT (stormwreath) wrote,
StephenT
stormwreath

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

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

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

Also - yay! She's still alive!

By 'she', of course, I mean...
Kennedy. :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: Good.
Tags: buffy, review, season 8, season 8 review
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