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StephenT [userpic]

(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.


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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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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

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)

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)

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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)

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.*

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