Log in

No account? Create an account
StephenT [userpic]

(Review) BtVS 8.29 'Retreat' Part 4

9th October 2009 (00:08)

Another month, another Season 8 comic. And beware, for I have Kittens of Doom ready to unleash on anyone who is mean to it! Just ask Emmie!

Anyway, here's the review.


The scenes of tension as everybody prepares for the inevitable attack are nicely done, with the cutting between viewpoints and speakers but the same conversation continuing - a standard 'Buffy' storytelling device. It may be a little stretching disbelief to wonder how they jumped straight from "a cat disappeared!" in the last episode to "The US Army is about to invade China and attack us!"... but since they've been attacked the same way every other time they were found, I suppose it's a reasonable guess.

I'm sure that the pairings of Xander and Dawn, Oz and Bay, Giles and Faith, Andrew and Satsu and Buffy and Willow is not meant to be a clue to current and future romantic relationships. :-) The Andrew and Satsu panel was particularly effective; he is using the standard military euphemism ("we will lose people") because he thinks in narrative terms; but Satsu is blunt and realistic. "Say it right," she reproves him. "People will die." And then Willow's outburst sets the cap on the scene. I was reminded of 'Empty Places', with the confrontation over tactics in front of a crowd of [Potential] Slayers waiting for leadership - but this time, both Willow is being far more assertive and Buffy is being much more in control of the situation. She very sensibly chooses not to have the argument in front of everybody else.

Also, Willow apparently has chopsticks in her hair. :-)

The next scene is one I have mixed feelings about from a pure story-format perspective; I think Willow's emotional meltdown would have worked perfectly on-screen, and it would perhaps have worked better in comics if it made more dynamic use of the medium - fragmented panels and so forth to show Willow's state of mind. As it is, the simple narrative panel-by-panel approach made what should have been a very powerful scene come across strangely flat. But quibbles aside, I have no problems with the content. Last month, Willow had an epiphany that her magic did not have to define her: she could choose a normal life instead, start a family, escape the fate of turning into Dark Willow and living for 200 years. But now she's confronted with the fact that her choice to set aside her power may have doomed all of them to death. She's helpless to protect them; and she's furious with herself for what she now sees as the weakness of giving way to her desire for normality. That, of course, resonates perfectly with Buffy who's in much the same position herself. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the final line "I thought I could have this... and I lost everything" is Buffy, not Willow, lamenting the fact that her idyllic retreat in the mountains has just collapsed around her. (And the "everything" she's lost almost certainly includes her newly kindled hopes of a relationship with Xander.)

I know a lot of people have commented on the 'stupidity' of the plan to abandon their powers and hide. The fact that everything is about to go horribly wrong for them as a result comes as a surprise to nobody in the readership, I'm sure. However, it's worth pointing out the situation they were in before: being hunted down by Twilight's allies in the military and among the demon world, no hope of sympathy or help from the general public. Every time they tried to fight, they were defeated; their powers weren't actually helping them before at all. And then they learned they were actively hindering them, by acting as a beacon to Twilight. So in fact, they apparently had nothing to lose by renouncing them, and maybe a chance to hide - either permanently, or at least until they could regroup and replan. No, wars are not won by evacuations - or retreats. But they certainly aren't won by dying gloriously in battle against a superior foe because you were too pig-headed to retreat, either. And if Twilight really were motivated solely by the altruistic desire to prevent the Slayer Army from disturbing the balance of the world and imposing tyranny over humanity - well, their voluntary renunciation of their powers and retreat would mean he's won all he set out to achieve, and has no further reason to fight them. Huh. Maybe he's a big fat liar and hypocrite after all? :-)

That's the tactics, now look at the symbolism. Season 8 has been an exploration of what happened when Buffy and Xander created an army to fight evil, and Willow chose to make bargains with mysterious serpent goddesses to achieve almost godlike power herself. They did it for the best motives, but at the same time sacrificed their chance at a normal life. The 'Retreat' arc shows them what they were missing, and they all realise it. Willow, who's perhaps moved furthest from humanity, is affected most powerfully by the reminder. But now, of course, they're seeing the price of that renunciation: a person without power can't hurt other people (except with harsh language), but nor can they help anyone (except with inspiring language). No, it's not exactly a subtle message, but it's powerful. Reversing the Slayer spell and turning all the Slayers back into normal girls does not seem to be the big answer to the questions Season 8 is posing. The bad guys don't stop hating you because you've put down your weapons.

Okay, back to the silly trivia questions. How does Willow actually know, when she points at her eyes, that they aren't black? There aren't any mirrors around. So I can only assume that she can physically feel when her eyes change colour... Also, this scene reminds us of the set-up from previous issues: that Bay has taught both Oz and now Buffy & Co to "redirect their power into the Earth"... this, of course, will be significant later.

More preparations, and Dawn's obviously-meaningful line that "You just have to be strong in another way". She and Xander are obviously geeking out over the military weaponry, and brush over the objections of at least one of the Slayers to "taking up a gun". I assume that it's specifically guns she objects to, since I can't imagine a Slayer willing to join Buffy's organisation that wouldn't then be willing to take up a stake, axe or sword. She's quite cute struggling under the weight of the manpads (though, of course, there's also the horrible symbolism of young women about to be crushed by the weight of modern warfare and the burden of turning themselves into killers, blah blah.) Also, I assume Jane Espenson read the word "manpads" somewhere, had a giggling fit and decided she had to have Xander demonstrating one.

I did wonder what the "big thing" Andrew was whispering about would be... I half-expected it to be a nuke, but it turns out to be nothing so dramatic. This is something that the issue will do again on the next page, when Buffy has her idea. When Buffy gets an idea it's usually something that saves the day at the last minute - but again, this time it turns out to be only a minor ruse that might buy a little time. Seems to me that Jane enjoys raising our hopes that they're going to pull out a secret weapon and save the day, only to crush them again...

While not all the scenes in this issue work perfectly, I thought the brief conversation between Buffy and Giles was note-perfect, both in painting the picture of what's happening to them, and characterising the two of them and their relationship.

More Dawn and Xander cuteness. It turns out that while Dawn's knowledge of military weaponry is surprisingly extensive - although perhaps not quite so surprising given how good at research she is - she at least doesn't know how to operate their radar systems. Of course, when Willow first installed them back in 'No Future For You' Dawn was still too big to fit inside a building... I did like the exchange about the radar noise being mistaken for incoming aircraft. I'm not sure if the Slayer with long brown hair is supposed to be someone we recognise or not? It's maybe possibly Kennedy, but I think she shows up in a brief cameo later on instead.

Finally, the scene switches to even more cuteness when one of the Slayers refers to Dawn and Xander as "mama and papa" and they smile at each other. I'm going to assume for now that's because their being a couple is now recognisable to other people, and not because Dawn is actually pregnant. But you never know. :-)

Buffy's big idea: get Andrew to do some fake magic to maybe trick Twilight into not attacking straight away. Not quite up there with using Faith's dagger to lure the Mayor into a room full of explosives or releasing the energy in the Scythe to turn every single Potential into a Slayer. The inevitable yak joke was funny, though. Fandom needs more yak jokes. Oh, and Buffy is still experiencing lurid scarlet-tinted flashbacks of her sister kissing Xander. Awww.

And suddenly everybody appears to be wearing a Kevlar helmet. Presumably they got a job lot on the black market when they bought all those weapons too. Dawn and Xander still have total; respect for Buffy, even though they're not sure they're going to win. Buffy is all stoic and hiding her misery, which isn't helped by the fact that her sister is now happy to kiss her would-be-boyfriend openly in front of the entire army. Three Slayers using manpads fall over from the recoil... I do hope that was one of Twilight's jets they shot down and not a civilian airliner. :-)  And the woman shouting "Tanks!" here is, I think, Kennedy's cameo appearance. Anyone else agree?

A nice little cameo of Faith putting on her helmet, and hesitating for a while looking stricken - presumably thinking "God, I thought I was through with this crap!" But as soon as Monroe's wolves show up she's back to her usual sarcastic self. Isn't there a continuity error here, though - I thought Monroe was killed in the flashback earlier, and it was only his followers who carried on the fight? Unless the werewolf that Bay killed was one of his followers rather than Monroe himself - there were three in the group Oz was talking to. Nice irony in that Monroe confirms that Oz, too, is losing something important to him.

Now the battle scenes. These have to be taken with a certain amount of poetic licence, unfortunately - by the time the enemy forces really got as close to the monastery as they're shown in these panels the battle would be almost over, not to mention that real soldiers haven't lined up shoulder-to-shoulder and charged on a battlefield since 1916, and it didn't go very well then either. But we watch (or read) 'Buffy' for the emotional impact and subtle meta-stories, not for the documentary realism, don't we? :-)

Speaking of which, the soldiers appear to be wearing the kind of uniform US soldiers wear in Iraq, nor are any of them ethnically Chinese, hence my comments before about a US invasion of the People's Republic of China. I'm going to have to assume that Twilight 'arranged' things either by blackmailing/enchanting the Chinese authorities to allow this, or by teleporting the entire army into Tibet... presumably from Iraq, where it was stationed ready and waiting for Twilight's orders. (Rumsfeld and Cheney were in the pay of Twilight? That would explain a lot...) For the record, the tanks just seem to be generic tanks, but the attacking force does include at least one Bradley IFV and a couple of HMMWVs so they're definitely using US military hardware.

The secret weapon is revealed, and it's one of the torpedoes from the submarine. Cute. A Mk-48 torpedo carries one-third of a ton of high explosive in its warhead, so should be reasonably effective against tanks... I suppose we have to assume that the rest of Twilight's force pulled back at this point to regroup, otherwise - as I said - the battle would already be over by this point.

Everybody goes 'crazy with happiness' - at the fact that they've just killed humans, you'll notice - but Buffy doesn't share the joy. They're still losing, And she and Willow then jointly come up with the idea that perhaps will save the day after all. (OR WILL IT?)

And then we see that Bay has been wounded. Uh-oh. She and Oz had a happy romantic relationship,and we all know what that means. (Well, maybe not, Maybe she'll pull through, just to confound expectations). Oz seems almost bewildered, pale and staring with shock; notice that his line "Buffy. Help." is spoken flatly, with no exclamation marks or large text to show emphasis. And now we get the big reveal of just exactly what it was that Bay's magic-suppression techniques involved. She thought they were calling on "the powers of the Earth" by their traditional Tibetan names; Buffy, who has way more experience in these things, realises that "The Earth is just the modern name for the local crazy wrath goddesses" - and they haven't been giving their power to some abstract Gaia force, they've been giving it to powerful and angry supernatural entities. Oops. And also, uh-oh. (The impression I get is that Bay didn't know exactly what she was dealing with but the others took her on trust since her methods worked, rather than that she deliberately lied to them - but the latter is certainly possible.)

Willow isn't too happy about the implications of this either, possibly because she has even more, um, intimate knowledge of goddesses than Buffy does these days. But it's interesting that she concentrates on trying to patch Bay's wounds while it's Buffy who puzzles through exactly where their magic has been going and what they can do about it. Almost as if Willow is deliberately avoiding the subject - though Buffy seems to do pretty well working it out herself. She's not just a pretty face and stylish yet affordable boots. She's also switched into total badass mode, which is always fun to watch. "I need to talk to these goddesses."

Remati, also called Palden Lhamo, is a Tibetan Buddhist deity sometimes associated with the Hindu goddess Kali, and is the divine protector of Tibet and the Dalai Lamas. She was once an evil and wicked spirit who killed and skinned alive (*koff*likeWillow*koff) her own son, before meeting the Buddha and converting to the Law. She's the blue one with three eyes.

Vajrayogini is a Tantric deity and Buddha, also called the 'wrathful black one' and noted as representing the wild, fiery and untamed force of enlightenment. She's usually drawn holding a large knife and a cup filled with blood and wearing a necklace of human skulls, which Buffy would probably say sounds less with the enlightened and more with the wrathy. She's the red one.

Ekajari, also known by bizarre coincidence as Tara, was once the goddess of heaven of the Tibetan Bon religion before being converted to Buddhism. She's determined and fierce and tramples her enemies underfoot. She's the pink one with a single pointed tooth.

Okay, hands up who thought that Buddhism was a gentle and peaceful religion? Or a non-theistic one? :-)

Big dramatic confrontation between Buffy and Oz about Bay; Oz is - naturally enough, but also symbolically - only concerned about his wife's injury, not the big army that's about to kill them all. Big picture/little picture, one of the season's themes. But Buffy and Willow are working side by side to fix the problem, all personal concerns forgotten. And then...

The three goddesses appear like the strands of a DNA molecule, then burst into reality in all their glory. Are they here to save the day, defeat Twilight and bring glorious victory for our heroes?

Well, we know that there is another issue in this arc (and at least ten more after it), so this isn't the climax. And crazy wrath-goddesses whose choice in clothes and accessories has a very strong "human skull" motif are unlikely to be very sympathetic or friendly, or good at telling friend from foe, or at going away when they're no longer needed...

I read a review of one of Guy Gavriel Kay's novels once - I think it was by Dave Langford - who noted that one of the clichés of a certain kind of fantasy fiction is when the heroes summon the Wild Hunt. Everybody warns them that doing this is insanely dangerous, that the Wild Hunt is powerful and old magic that can't be controlled by mortals... but the heroes go ahead anyway, and of course the Hunt defeats all their enemies and saves the day and they all live happily ever after. Just once, the review said, it would be nice to see a book where the Wild Hunt turned out to be exactly as dangerous as everybody says, and summoning it destroys the good guys' army right alongside the bad guys'. Kay's book did that. Will Espenson's?

There's another complication too, of course. Willow fed all her insanely vast amounts of magical power into these goddesses. Will that come back to haunt her in the next issue? And will it turn out to be a weakness or a last-minute secret advantage?

Finally, a mention of the letters column, which amused me. We have a long letter from a gay man criticising the narrow-mindedness of those fans who complain about "the gay stuff" in Season 8, and complimenting Scott and Joss on sticking to their guns; and then it's followed by... a letter criticising Season 8 for "this Buffy lesbian stuff" which is apparently spoiling it all. Hmm. (And Scott replies to the first letter in an "Aww shucks, thanks" kind of way, and leaves the second letter to speak for itself. He's a cruel, cruel man.) And another word on the infamous Warren continuity error, in which I want to cheer Scott for his summing up... and also for the illuminating remark that "[Joss] knows he has a fan base that is more focused on this sort of continuity than he is, but he follows his own vision nonetheless [because he has a] keen sense of drama". Which we knew anyway, but now it's in print. :-)


Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 01:29 (UTC)

Good review, as usual.

I think the fact that Buffy is using her very well-defined wrath to call up the Goddesses means that Dawn is toast. I'd give it a 95% chance at least. It's the perfect way of getting Buffy to kill Dawn without really killing her. We get lots of Buffy angst, a dead Dawn to trigger some cascade of events (possibly related to why Twilight is Twilight), a poignancy to the panel in #27 where Buffy talks about giving into teh dark side while Dawn is blotted out from view. If not Dawn, Xander. Or both of them.

On BF I was talking about "quitting" not as in flat quitting, but rather as a strong flavor in what's going on. Pretty much like when I say Buffy's swan dive in The Gift had overtones of suicide without being a suicide. In this case, the whole arc has been setting it up, to wit:

#26: Giles "so you just let it happen" Buffy: angsting about moral certainty (exactly the effect Twilight's been looking for). Yes, she gets an idea -- so she's not full on quit. But there's an edge off.

#27: Buffy "just give in" and the look on her face. This has two meanings, I think. One is giving into the monster, which is what Oz has just been talking about and which I think is one of the big foreshadowings of what I think is about to happen to Dawn. But it also has the meaning that they live out in the next issue -- quitting the battle and going back to ordinary life. (Buffy's sense of tension and angst is the dilemma of how to hold the two halves together. She'd love to give in, one way or the other).

#28. The whole theme of we can have futures and normal lives.

All of this, to me, adds up to the explanation for why Buffy didn't use the time in retreat to get together some serious contingency plans for the eventuality that Twilight was going to keep coming at them. There's some meager gestures at defense -- but given their reactions in #29 none of them think the defenses are likely to be enough. #28 shouldn't have been about smooching and babies. It should have been an anxious Buffy aggressively demanding new approaches, new solutions. Giles is there. Where's the research? Where's the brainstorming?

I can buy what you say about the need to retreat. But Buffy is all-too-ready to get out of the game here. And that's what leaves them flat-footed when Twilight shows up (as they must have known was at least a strong possibility).

I really think this is meant to be part of the story. See also the ineffectiveness of Buffy's two big surprise moves here -- indications that she's not fully into this or is otherwise off her game.

For good reasons, I might add. What is she fighting for? A human race that hates her. What is she giving up to do it? A chance at a normal life where she can actually feel things and not stand over people. Buffy is tired and confused. And I think that's the explanation for the odd sitting-duck strategy (w/o serious back-up plan). NB: This is not a critique of the comics. It's the provision of an in-text explanation for something that strikes many people as odd. So no kittens tossed at me, please!!

I agree that the ultimate outcome isn't just a reversal of the slayer spell. But if this is not a tragedy, Buffy should end season 8 with a much better sense of how to balance things. She can't *just* be a slayer. As we see here, she can't *just* be human. She needs to not give into the temptation to fall one way or the other. She needs to find a way to make it work. That said, I think there's a good chance that the season ends in tragedy. The stakes just seem to be higher all around.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 13:08 (UTC)


I'd be very surprised indeed if Buffy, Willow, Xander or Dawn were ever permanently killed. Killing a secondary character adds suspense and angst, but killing your main characters means killing your show. It's different if you're writing a specific story that is planned to end, but not for an ongoing series that is planned to continue indefinitely. (And of course, on TV sometimes you have to kill a main character if the actor leaves the show, but that doesn't apply to comics.)

I also didn't get the impression that Buffy's wrath was entirely about Dawn/Xander - that's a factor, sure, but I think she's just as angry with Bay and Oz for (probably unintentionally) misleading her; and of course she's angry at Twilight and the whole situation there.

I can buy what you say about the need to retreat. But Buffy is all-too-ready to get out of the game here.

Sure - but like I said on BuffyForums, I think she herself was taken by surprise by how much she enjoyed just letting go and being a normal person again. It wasn't planned for, but maybe it led her astray. Dramatically, too, I don't think the "aggressive brainstorming for new solutions" would work, since that's more or less what they were doing all along - just not successfully. They've been fighting deperately against Twilight, suffering one defeat after another, this arc is meant to show them finally being able to get away from that for a while.

And remember, we don't know exactly how Twilight (or rather, cat!Amy) found them again so quickly, but I'm betting it has something to do with a traitor. Without that, they could easily have had the six months or more of respite they hoped for.

So no kittens tossed at me, please!!

Don't worry. :-) I think we're more or less in agreement, except that maybe I'm more accepting of Buffy's decision to retreat. It's not the perfect strategy, buit it's completely understandable and in context a perfectly rational response to the choices she faced.

(And yes, Buffy has a habit of pulling out dei ex machina, but I think it's actually a typical BtVS subverson-of-its-own-clichés that this time her big surprises were comparatively rather lame. It's mot something a realistic character should be able to rely on doing every single time.)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 14:30 (UTC)

Re: dei ex machina -- The thing is that lack of attention to whether these things make sense (see, e.g. Buffy's solution to her problem in the Gift or her whole plan in The Chosen) means that essentially it's the writers' whimsy whether her solutions work or not. It's thus hard to distinguish between "this time the circumstances are *really* bad" and "this time Buffy's heart's not quite in it." If you are right that this can't possibly be a tragic work (i.e. nobody important dies), then we know at the end of the day she's going to get the big aha moment on how to defeat Twilight. So I think it's fair for me to conclude that at the moment she's not firing on all cylinders. (And isn't that really how it works. Buffy doesn't "solve" the problem until she's resolved her own issues on whatever it is that the problem is a metaphor for.) This Buffy has lost all balance between slayer and human and has lost track of who she is, etc. etc. The blind retreat is understandable, but she's not going to overcome this problem until she stands her ground and deals with it.

Oh, I forgot one other place where the text calls her on standing around waiting rather than aggressively tackling the problem -- Satsu's remarks about whether they were supposed to wait for the judgment of history.

I bet you one "I told you so" that the wrath goddesses kill Dawn. Yes, all that other anger is in the mix. But in the middle of the "use anger to call up the Goddesses" bit we cut to a battle scene focused explicitly on Dawn and Xander. Add in the fact that we were literally bludgeoned this issue with how in-your-face together they were and how much that *really* bothered Buffy and I think we have plenty of groundwork for Buffy's unconscious anger to take out Dawn. See also the foreshadowing of Buffy taking out Dawn in Living Doll and again in the second issue of this arc. What has me so fearlessly forecasty about this is that I had seen the foreshadowing but couldn't quite see Buffy killing Dawn. This way it is Buffy who kills Dawn, but only sort of, in a way that is due to her but which is very far from intentional. Having said that I figure you'll probably win the bet -- I'm never a good forecaster.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 16:06 (UTC)

I bet you one "I told you so" that the wrath goddesses kill Dawn.

You're on!

Dragging her off to another dimension or something so she has to be rescued doesn't count as killing her, unless she's still there at the end of the season. :-) (I actually wonder if that might happen, given the fact that Dawn used to be an interdimensional Key was specifically signposted this issue.)

As for Dawn sacrificing her own life voluntarily to stop the goddesses... hmm, I might concede that one to you if you promise not to gloat. :-)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 16:31 (UTC)

Well, I won't gloat if you won't.

I agree that there are lots of dramatic ways for Dawn to play into the story. I've thought most of them at one point or another. In particular, I have a whole post up arguing that Dawn's key-ness has to matter somehow. Perhaps it'll be the case that ther wrath goddess "kills" Dawn, but it doesn't take on account of keyness. That way we get Buffy angst plus more interesting story for Dawn. And since the gist of my forecast is just that the wrath goddess is going to have lethal intentions with respect to Dawn, I'd count that as a win for my forecast.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 02:34 (UTC)

I enjoyed this issue for what it was... a big action-fest leading up to the real fireworks in #30. And I was especially gratified to see that Willow's response to Buffy's killing-her-in-the-future confession was just a delayed reaction, and not genuine lack of concern. The explanation of why the Slayers and Wiccans lost their powers so quickly was appreciated, too.

Pretty sure Twilight teleported his army in, as he did when he thought they were in Mongolia. I can't imagine the Chinese government tolerating a foreign military force moving into Tibet, no matter what the circumstances.

I'm also going on the assumption that this military group is Twilight's, and not a part of the regular U.S. army.

I thought it was bizarre that Bay... with an infant to care for... not only stayed in what was about to become a war zone, but was apparently out in the field getting herself nearly killed.

And the Monroe issue is problematic. I would have accepted that Bay had only badly wounded him in the #27 flashback, but on the next page we see Bay regretting making him a martyr. Presumably, martyrs are dead. Big continuity error... and for something only two issues ago.

It would be nice to see a book where the Wild Hunt turned out to be exactly as dangerous as everybody says, and summoning it destroys the good guys' army right alongside the bad guys'. Kay's book did that. Will Espenson's?

Magic 8-Ball says: Very Likely.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 13:13 (UTC)

The revelation about the Tibetan goddesses was a big uh-oh moment, I do agree. :-)

It seems to me that Twilight has infiltrated various other power groups; General Voll is definitely part of the US army. My question would be whether the hundreds of soldiers in the attack group are all loyal and committed followers of Twilight, or if they've been deceived or brainwashed or whatever into fighting - in which case this might be an official regiment of the US Army that's been "diverted" somehow.

Maybe Bay transformed into a wolf to join in the fighting, and changed back to human after she was injured? (But would that mean the soldiers were firing silver bullets?)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 23:37 (UTC)

Maybe Bay transformed into a wolf to join in the fighting, and changed back to human after she was injured? (But would that mean the soldiers were firing silver bullets?)

It would also have meant that Bay would be naked after changing back, rather than fully clothed as she was.

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 05:07 (UTC)

Great review! The Monroe continuity error is a bit irritating. And disappointing really. Allie has confirmed that in the Q&A at SlayAlive. Not sure what's to be done about it yet.

And the woman shouting "Tanks!" here is, I think, Kennedy's cameo appearance. Anyone else agree?

Actually, I'm pretty sure that's Bay. The cheeks are broader and sharper than Iyari Limon's, hinting at a stronger Asiatic heritage. And Bay being on the lines needed to be established before she was injured. I thought that was Kennedy in the earlier scenes with Xander and Dawn.

Posted by: darkestboy (darkestboy)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 12:43 (UTC)
DW Logo

I thought Issue 24 covered all letters concerning the pro/anti Buffy/Satsu stuff.

Need to get this issue.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 13:19 (UTC)

Everybodyneeds to get this issue. :-)

Regarding the letters, the impression I get is that Scott is simply printing all the ones he's ever received (apart from the totally crazy or illiterate ones) in the order he got them. So the letters in 8.24 were all sent after 8.12 first came out and had the initial reaction; the ones in this issue were sent by people who've read all of the 'Wolves At The Gate' arc and wanted to comment on the whole storyline in there.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 13:16 (UTC)

On second look I think you're right that it's Bay: she's wearing the same colour clothing as she was in an earlier panel, aand her hair seems to be braided the same way. It's just that she looked a lot like the depiction of Kennedy in 'Anywhere But Here'.

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 14:49 (UTC)

It's just that she looked a lot like the depiction of Kennedy in 'Anywhere But Here'.

Which was drawn by Cliff Richards, though.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 16:07 (UTC)

And Georges can't look at another artist's depiction of a character and say "I'll try to match that in my own drawings."?

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 9th October 2009 19:02 (UTC)

According to him, no. :)

I get the impression from what he's said in the past, that he draws Bay from looking at pictures of Dichen Lachman.

Posted by: phil_k_87 (phil_k_87)
Posted at: 10th October 2009 00:24 (UTC)

Total sidenote: Why don't you crosspost on alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer anymore? I really liked reading your reviews on usenet and now you forced me to read it here, and furthermore, to even open up a livejournal account only so that I can answer you. Why would you do something like that?

Ad Rem: This issue doesn't really work for me, but it was the first time that I was happy to see a deus-ex-machina ending. The "give the power to the earth" approach was too far stressed for me. That the earthly powers were in fact some daemons lessens my main objection to this story line.

It's total interesting that guns are now a acceptable form of doing damage. Why didn't you dive into that? Given Buffy's reluctant of using guns this is more than small change in personality. It's a frakking earthquake.

I really don't get the motif of the army. Why would they attack? Why would soldiers believe it's a good thing to attack a group of girls?

As far as I see it, they must have some agenda and cannot be reduced of being "evil" as your common daemons. And why would anyone still work for Twilight? He has been shown to be a total maniac. (Killing people that intended to help like that guy who found "that spike" was just a dumb act of Twilight making him one of the worst big bad since the trio in their earliest stage.)

I have to agree that Dawn and Xander are totally cute together. I really loved the switch that suddenly Xander ad Dawn, the former sidekicks that both used to be best at playing Damsel in distress, become the leaders by their being "normal" or as normal as you can with Dawn being a key as she herself points out and planning a battle. Buffy and the other slayer are unused at being normal so they refer to them as the new role model, or "mama and papa". I also was amazed by Dawn's geekiness but I think that comes with the dating-Xander-Harris-package. As long as you are no ex-daemon anyway.

Apropos Xander: His reply to Buffy to get his "big secret weapon" was the cheapest and lowest pun yet. Has he ever gone that cheesy? Even if Buffy wouldn't have a crush on him, I doubt she would laugh. And I think it was intended by this scene she only didn't laugh. Anyway, I rolled my eyes. What a groaner.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th October 2009 12:10 (UTC)

Honestly? I'm not really reading atbvs anymore, so it's just a matter of remembering to cross-post the review.

I did like the reveal about the earth goddesses, although it does leave Bay looking a bit stupid that she didn't realise that a "wrathful earth godess" probably wasn't just a metaphor in the Buffyverse.

I don't think Buffy's personality has really changed viz-a-viz guns; and you'll notice that while Giles offers her the assault rifle, she isn't actually carrying it in any of the scenes after that. It does nicely illustrate the "You're not Slayers anymore" motif, though.

The soldiers are attacking because these aren't "girls", they're "an army [with] power, resources and a hard-line ideology that does not jibe with American interests. Worst of all, they got a leader. Charismatic, uncompromising and completely destructive." Osama bin Laden only blew up two skyscrapers; Buffy blew up an entire American town (supposedly). I doubt that the soldiers on the ground have ever even met Twilight in person, only his lieutenants.

I smiled at Xander's comment, but then it's probably the kind of joke I'd have made myself in the same situation. I don't think laughter is really the expected result of a deliberately bad pun, though, more a groan and a "I can't believe you actually went there" kind of look. :-)

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 10th October 2009 23:00 (UTC)

A couple of additonal notes on the Tibetan goddesses...

According to "Dictionary of Ancient Deities" (Patricia Turner and Charles Russell Coulter, Oxford University Press, 2001):

1) A similarly named (although apparently distinct) deity called Vajrajogini is identified with both Kali and one of the fierce aspects of the Tibetan Buddhist goddess Tara.

2) The Hindu goddess Tara is often depicted as an aspect of Kali

(As you mention, Palden Lhamo is also associated with Kali).

So there's somewhat of a linkage between the names of all THREE goddesses and some version of the goddess Tara.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th October 2009 12:15 (UTC)

I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that the phrase "the goddess Tara" never actually appears in the comic. :-) (Though a close-up of Willow's expression if she hears it would be interesting.) It might be a Easter egg for the readers, though... or maybe Jane Espenson googled 'Tibetan folklore'; saw a reference to the name 'Tara', and jumped on it?

Posted by: flake_sake (flake_sake)
Posted at: 11th October 2009 17:32 (UTC)

Ahhhhh!!! Kittens of Doom are tearing me to shreds!!! *dying noises*

On the serious side, great review.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th October 2009 20:52 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 12th October 2009 09:32 (UTC)

Great review, as always - well, we already know I disagree with some of it, but hey. :-)

Willow is being far more assertive and Buffy is being much more in control of the situation. She very sensibly chooses not to have the argument in front of everybody else.

Especially sensible since she doesn't really have a counter-argument to Willow's assertion that they don't stand a chance.

But now, of course, they're seeing the price of that renunciation: a person without power can't hurt other people (except with harsh language), but nor can they help anyone (except with inspiring language).

I would say it shows that they can hurt other people, by using weapons. The weaker you are, the easier it is to use purely destructive power.

her sister is now happy to kiss her would-be-boyfriend openly in front of the entire army

Curiously enough, Allie claims they haven't gone public yet. I wonder what everyone thinks they're doing - checking for cavities?

Three Slayers using manpads fall over from the recoil.

According to friends who have fired them, shoulder-launched missiles don't actually have a recoil. But I'm not enough of a gun nut to know if there are exceptions to that. Maybe the ex-Slayers, being untrained, expected a recoil and overcompensated?

a US invasion of the People's Republic of China

I wasn't the only one who wondered about this! Yay! Not that I expect it to be a plot point, but it would be a bit embarrassing if this started WWIII... speaking of:

Rumsfeld and Cheney were in the pay of Twilight? That would explain a lot...


"The Earth is just the modern name for the local crazy wrath goddesses"

I really liked that bit, actually. Then again, I'm a sucker for myth deconstruction.

Just once, the review said, it would be nice to see a book where the Wild Hunt turned out to be exactly as dangerous as everybody says, and summoning it destroys the good guys' army right alongside the bad guys'. Kay's book did that. Will Espenson's?

Does seem like it. Though I suppose it's possible they'll just trample a couple of no-name Slayers by mistake. But I like the Wild Hunt comparison. Though as always, the Simpsons got there first when they released lizards to control the pigeon population.

SKINNER: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
LISA: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
SKINNER: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.
LISA: But aren’t the snakes even worse?
SKINNER: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
LISA: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
SKINNER: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

And #30 promises a snowstorm... :-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th October 2009 13:30 (UTC)

Curiously enough, Allie claims they haven't gone public yet.

I've just read his Q&A myself. They do look kind of public... But I suppose what he means is they haven't gone to Buffy or anyone else and announced formally "Hey, we're dating". They're just getting carried away whenever they're together, which lends substance to the whole "giddy with excitement" theory.

And, point of order - the only time we've seen them kissing this issue is when they're standing outside with nobody else close by, and those who could see them busy with other things. That's not really all that public, even if it's not exactly keeping it secret either.


(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th October 2009 00:16 (UTC)


Posted by: bthecat (bthecat)
Posted at: 14th October 2009 23:31 (UTC)

Is it just me, or is anyone else crying because B/X seems to just keep getting farther away?
I like Dawn. I want Buffy and Xander together.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th October 2009 00:15 (UTC)
Re: B/X

It's not just you.. there are plenty of B/X fans around

But I'm afraid I'm not one of them, Sorry. :-( I prefer them as close friends.

Posted by: back from the dead to save you all from yourselves (thehornedgod)
Posted at: 15th October 2009 00:19 (UTC)
teeny ten from art by alizarin_skies

Thanks for the notes on the goddesses, very interesting. It's a bit of a coincidence that one of them's also known as Tara.

Me, I'm worried about Dawn at this point. I don't think she's a fundamental Scooby like Giles and Xander and Willow, she's more of a second-stringer like Tara and Anya and Faith, and I think it could be very bad news for her that Buffy just used her own anger to summon up those crazy wrath goddesses. D:

Posted by: chianazhaan (chianazhaan)
Posted at: 11th July 2011 23:14 (UTC)
(Review) BtVS 8.29 'Retreat' Part 4

I like this review. The explanation about the 3 Goddesses and their connection to 'Kali' and 'Tara'. Loved your sidebar about the 'Wild Hunt'. I've never heard of it before, but it was interesting.

I'm reminded of the Cruciamentum test. As a lesson that you cannot depend on strength alone, and need to know how to fight smart, this arc works.

But plausibility has been thrown out the window. The U.S. Army invades China. Professional soldiers fighting teenaged girls who have been given a one-hour crash course in modern warfare. Tanks that seem to have no problems in mountains. Aeroplanes that don't seem to do anything worthwhile in this fight. And Buffy lost her brain somewhere, because she refuses a rifle. (BTW, there appear to be M1 Abrams battle tanks, but there appear to be other types of tanks as well. Or just badly drawn tanks, which I can't rule out.)

It also seems like the casualties are rather low. (Or there's a lot more cannon fother than we think.)

So, the plan worked for a few weeks, and the backup plan is to fight with modern weaponry. Never mind the slayers that have been left behind as we'll see in future issues.

And there's the moral question that was asked by the watcher in Hanselstadt. Why fight and protect people that try to murder you? Which makes me wonder. There are 2 geeks (at least). Hasn't anyone mentioned the possibility of dimension hopping like Sliders did? A tactical retreat has to conform to certain requirements. Which don't include remaining at one place and awaiting the slaughter that's about to happen.

And Willow doesn't seem to know anything about the techniques they've been using to draw your mystical power into the ground. So unlike Willow.

And it's interesting that Monroe's group of werewolves seem to know about the threat to magic that Twilight poses. Everyone but the good guys know about the Twilight / End-of-Magic prophesy. It's getting annoying.

Still, a very insightful review. Thanks.

28 Read Comments