Sunday, December 23, 2007

My review of Angel's 6x02: "After The Fall Part 2"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Franco Urru

Female Bodyguard: “Nobody touches Spike, Lord of Beverley Hills and our saviour squared.”
Angel: “Saviour squared. Yep, now it’s officially hell.”

Issue 1 to this arc started well enough but I have to admit that this issue didn’t overcome me with much excitement as Angel tells Wesley about killing Burges’ son and refuses his friends’ request to help him. I guess Angel wasn’t joking when he admitted to not being sure of Wesley – now he’s showing it.

Wesley doesn’t necessarily react to having offered to help rejected but you can tell by the look on his face that he isn’t a happy bunny over it either. I like that Angel does feel bad for how he treats Wesley but under the circumstances, he might have a good reason to be abrasive.

Not only is he not certain as what Wesley’s motives are at the moment but because he slaughtered the Burges’ irritating kid, he realises that he’s also painted a target on Connor as a result. Still there’s minor fun in Angel knocking down demons as he makes his way to his son’s hideout and is greeted by Nina.

Now I like Nina as a character but I wasn’t really keen on listening to her erratic responses when Angel was asking her a simple question. I get that being in hell is fucking up her mental state and perhaps there’s a juicy plot in there for future issues to cover but right now I don’t care. Angel’s worried about the only person left in his life and he’s got good reason too.

Fortunately Connor’s amazing skills at hacking and slashing are back to their Season Four best as Angel sees his boy slaughtering demons without breaking a sweat. Yeah, it seems another demon wants to be Lord of Westwood and Connor is ending his reign before it begins.

What’s even better is that Connor’s reaction to seeing his father is of pure delight. Okay so he might be a tiny bit annoyed that Angel hasn’t been in touch recently but overall he’s trying to impress Angel with his slaying. Angel makes a note of that while admitting that he’s also keen to impress Connor. It’s nice that there is at least one really sweet moment in an arc so inherently bleak. Heck, Connor even takes it well when he finds out that he might be a target for Burges.

Of course the father and son reunion does get interrupted by Gwen. She’s zapping demons left, right and centre but she’s also found something pretty gnarly and when you’re stuck in hell, that’s something of an achievement.

Given the location they happen to be in, I’m gonna guess it’s the remains of KR’PH and his pals. The fact that Gwen then muses about their being a new player in town only proves that point when the next thing we see is Gunn and some kind of spider web. I forgot that he stole company.
The fish from last issue is Betta George and he’s not thrilled with being kidnapped by a vampire. Funny thing is his willingness to listen to Gunn in spite of not knowing whether or not his captor is worthy of being trusted. Gunn might make an excellent quip about a rotting corpse but true to form he’s not amused with his own transformation.

He gets pretty animated when George calls him a vampire and tells the telepathic fish about the many times he’s slain vampires. More importantly is his bitterness towards Angel. Gunn regrets ever trusting his former boss and even holds him responsible for his current state. Not entirely sure I would agree with that. Like everyone else, Gunn knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed up with Wolfram And Hart but at the same, there’s no way he deserved this cruel fate.

Gunn’s attempts to try and differentiate himself from other vampires comes across as denial. He’s disgusted by what he has become but at the same time, he’s eating humans to survive and even aggressively assaults George for little reason. The scorn by his team mates also suggests he might have a mutiny on his hands too.

Also we see him place the orb he stole from KR’PH placed in a room of what looks like demon remains of sorts. Gunn plotting revenge on Angel is just another sore point with this issue. Having the Eye Of Ramras is also bad seeing as it amplifies power.

Any chance that Gunn might be using that to get his soul back, boost his physical strength or on the rare off chance becoming human again? Where a Chameleon Arch when you need one? I think I’ve gone from Gunn being a vampire is unfair to Gunn being a vampire flat out sucks.

Another sore point about this issue is that Angel lies to Connor when the lad asks if he knows who’s responsible for all the carnage? Angel obviously knows its Gunn and probably feels guilty about what happened to his mate but Angel really can’t afford to keep Connor in the dark. Connor is the only real ally along with Nina and Gwen that Angel has right now. Keeping secrets will put them in harm’s way.

Gwen isn’t really as useful in the part of the issue as Angel and Connor mainly talk among themselves and she’s kind of left out. Gwen folding her arms and sulking is a good indicator that she doesn’t like being kept out of the loop. I wonder how she’ll feel when she discovers the new player in town is the same dude who took her virginity as well.

Still Angel chooses to leave both Connor and Gwen out of things because apparently dealing with things by him is the better option. In the least savage looking part of this hell on earth, a mansion and a gaggle of demonic babes reveal that Spike is living the life of luxury.

I’d love to say that I was so looking forward to Spike’s return but seeing as I found him to be mostly a hindrance in Season Five, I really wasn’t that fussed on seeing him. Spike doing his best Hugh Hefner stance and flashing his chest while women tend to him in hardly anything is a stark contrast to everything else. I supposed someone should be smelling the roses so to speak. Who better than Spike in terms of rubbing it into Angel?

Spike lazes about spewing mostly bullshit on how he has defeated most of the baddies since moving to LA and suffice to say, his ladies are lapping it up like there’s no tomorrow. There’s also going to be someone who’ll be impressed with Spike but honestly I’m finding somewhat irritating in this issue.

Angel’s also not particularly pleased with his enemy putting his own spin on things and the fact that Spike has bodyguards willing to inflict damage on Angel just reeked of annoyance. There’s a nice moment where one of Spike’s ladies shows an interest in Angel and anything that annoys Spike has to be a good thing.

Sadly while Angel might get a delightful punch it’s the presence of Illyria and her sudden devotion to Blondie Bear that see Angel on the verge of an ass kicking. Great, Spike’s appearance was annoying enough and now that Illyria has become his gushing sycophant I’m less than thrilled with seeing her again.

Also in “After The Fall Part 2”

Cover issue I got was Spike and his hoards of babes. There are two versions of the other two covers out there.

Wesley: “Do you want me to come with you?”
Angel: “To be honest, Wes … I really don’t.”
Wesley: “Right, then. I’ll stay here and haunt the fort.”

Okay can Franco Urru please stop drawing both Nina and Gwen like porn starlets? It’s distracting and not in a good way.

Angel: “Connor needs to watch his back. So Nina how have you -”
Nina: “I eat bloody meat now.”
Angel: “Oh good.”

Angel (re Connor): “After all I put him though. I mean this is literally the second time I punched his ticket to hell. Not many fathers can say that.”

Stupid question but was Angel hitting on Nina during their little scene together? I don’t think he wanted to go on a killing spree with her.

Angel: “I killed the son of a lord.”
Connor: “Good for you, seriously. Wow. Just that paints a big ass target on my head, doesn’t it?”
Angel: “Yeah. Sorry about that.”

Gwen (to Angel/Connor): “Yo. ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ going well? Awesome. You’re going to want to come with me.”

What’s the symbol drawn around George’s bed supposed to represent?

Gunn: “Comfortable.”
Betta George: “Gotta admit, not really. The accommodation in this place suck and it smells like rotting corpse.”
Gunn: “That’s probably because of the rotting corpse.”

Gunn (to Betta George, re Angel): “See someone fancies himself a white hat because he’s got a soul. Thinks he gets in touch with the man he was, makes him good. Funny thing, though. Maybe the man he was wasn’t all that good to begin with.”

One of the doors in Gunn’s place has a rotting octopus like creature strung up. It looks like it’s protecting that room.

Gunn (to Betta George): “It’s not about the soul. I’m living proof of that.”
Vampire: “Formerly living proof.”

Gwen: “It’s a vampire or many vampires.”
Angel: “How can you be sure?”
Gwen: “A few ladies told me. Not so much with words but with their necks and horrified dead expressions.”

There’s some strange marking on the wall that doesn’t seem consistent with the ones on the floor of Betta George’s bed.

Angel (re dragon): “Just go. He’ll find me. He’s a little jumpy around anyone who isn’t me so call him by his name to let him know you’re on the up and up.”
Connor: “What’s his name?”

Connor: “That’s what you went with? I’m serious Angel. Weirder and weirder.”

The dragon’s name is Dudden as far as I can make out. That’s not the weirdest of names to call a dragon.

Spike: “In the end, the forces of darkness didn’t stand a chance against Spike. All bloody hail.”
Female Demons: “Bloody hail.”

Spike: “Oh for goodness sake. Eyes back in your head, Spider.”
Spider (re Angel): “He reeks of magic.”
Spike: “And I don’t?”

That female bodyguard looked similar to a Bond villain.

Spike (to Angel): “You’re leaving in two ways. One in a teeny, tiny little urn. Two – you know what? I can only think of the one.”

Illyria (to Angel, re Spike): “Your presence is irritating my pet. Perhaps you dismemberment will soothe him.”

There’s an interview with Gary Russell previewing the Doctor Who comics that IDW have coming up in January with this issue as well.

Meh, I was under whelmed. “After The Fall Part 2” hyped up both Spike and Illyria’s return and both of them left me feeling cold. Thank God for Gunn’s struggle as a vampire and Angel/Connor stuff, otherwise this would’ve been a total chore to read.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

My Review Of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x09: "No Future For You Part 4"

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Faith (to herself, remembering The Mayor): “Everybody thinks he was like, exploiting me or whatever, but that’s not how it felt. So I totally get how chicks can get mixed up in the wrong crap. Even today, it’s still hard to look back at my time with that guy and feel anything but loved.”

Clearly someone loves “Graduation Day Part 1” a lot because this issue opens up with the evil but loving Faith/Mayor Wilkins team. It’s nicely stated that Richard saw Faith as the daughter he never had and despite her knowing he was a corrupt she still can’t bring herself to hate him.

I know the girl’s got Daddy issues that would make a writer like Brian K. Vaughan proud (due to the fact he scripts for Lost) but his grasp on Faith’s never ending yearning to be loved and accepted is really effective. It’s also the very thing that both she and Gigi have in common despite their friendship now being over.

Gigi doesn’t take being lied to easily and with an asshole like Roden egging her on, she’s only too happy to put her skills with an axe to good use. Funny thing is that Gigi does continue the romanticised/gay overtone with her and Faith by mentioning bathtub. Faith on the other hand tells her to get over it. Perhaps not the smartest to say to an axe wielding slayer but I already know who I want to win this fight.

Unfortunately for the time being it’s Gigi making the right moves even if she still can’t actually behead Faith with that axe of her. Faith does try to explain that she never lied about the stuff that mattered and you can tell she’s being sincere with that claim of her. Gigi responds by smacking her in the face with bottom of the axe.

Also realising that Faith is far from British, Gigi then enquires about her real origins. Faith didn’t get a chance to explain before Gigi comes to the conclusion she’s American but the coolest is seeing Faith kick Gigi from the balcony into the conservatory with just one swift kick. On screen that would’ve just looked amazing. In fact this is the kind of fight scenes that worked perfectly on the televised series.

The best thing about Faith here is that she decides to take advantage of the situation by simply explaining she’s from Boston. Gigi still doesn’t give a flying fuck and makes with the axe attack once again. I know that Gigi is going to lose this battle and her snobbery towards Faith’s lowly stature is quite an annoying thing to listen to. I get it Gigi you’re rich. That doesn’t mean Faith is beneath you. After all you did seem to have the hots for her before Buffy spoiled the party.

Faith still tries to reason with Gigi even though you know the girl ain’t for turning. Faith betrayed her and Gigi is determined to end her life as a result. More interesting is that Faith then tries to warn Gigi about Roden. Now only an idiot would think he has genuine affection for the spoiled slayer so Gigi is then pretty stupid when she all too quickly jumps to the guy’s defence.

The issue of Faith not having many friends has been looked at from time to time. We know that some of that has to do with her turning people who care about her away and other times, her inability to have a genuine connection with another person, but isn’t Gigi one to talk on the matter?

She told Faith last issue that her parents kept her from interacting with people her own age due to home schooling and it’s not like she gets on with her own rich crowd either. Part of the reason why Gigi doesn’t have pals is down to the fact she’s an intolerable bitch when push comes to shove.

It’s also amazing for a girl who also in the previous issue bragged about being able to manipulate men she isn’t able to see that Roden is using her. If he was genuinely worried then surely he would be helping Gigi in taking out Faith and not just watching instead? Well that’s what you think.

Also when it comes to thinking, I’m glad Giles hasn’t given up on trying to get to Faith even if with the help of Trafalgar he’s still failing to get past the force field protecting Gigi’s estate. Trafalgar is a fun enough character but man doesn’t he give up just a little bit too quickly as well?

As if Giles didn’t have that for a hindrance, he then has to deal with Buffy’s childish behaviour when she berates him for working with Faith. Okay Buffy has every right in the world to be mad at Giles for not telling her about Gigi and Roden. On that score Giles should’ve kept her informed but yelling at him because he’s working with Faith makes her sound like a spoiled bitch to put it mildly.

I said it in my last and I will say it, if this situation had involved either Angel or Spike, Buffy would only happily oblige to give them the benefit of the doubt but because it’s Faith she has to go off on one. Maybe Giles should’ve apologised for not keeping her in the loop but Buffy should know by now that he’s always got her back.

Perhaps yelling at Buffy for not taking Faith with her and effectively telling her to mind her own business wasn’t his best move but Buffy’s hatred for Faith has well and truly worn thin. If she can forgive both Spike and Angel for the shit they’ve put her through then she needs to start forgiving Faith as well.

Willow is quick to enquire about the friction between Buffy and Giles and Buffy at least has the practical sense to tell Willow to help Giles but she doesn’t exactly mask her hurt in regards to feeling left out. Xander is his level headed best by trying to get Buffy to figure that maybe Giles needs the alone time but Buffy seems too pissed off to be convinced of that.

Meanwhile Faith and Gigi are still beating the ever holy shit out of one another and Gigi even finds the time to complain about Faith ruining her mum’s Rose bush. Yeah Gigi, I’m sure Faith really cares about a lame Rose bush when you’re trying to kill her and not listening to a word of sense.

Faith doesn’t give up on slamming Roden’s name and I for one am only glad of it. Still Gigi is stupid and refuses to believe that Roden doesn’t care for her and nearly kills Faith with some garden shears. Luckily Gigi is a crap shot and Faith manages to catch them instead of getting slaughtered by them.

The same can’t be said for Gigi who finally meets her death but not before she spouts more self-entitled nonsense about being a worthy slayer. Oh Gigi you dumb bitch, you’re only one out of nearly 2000 slayers world wide and you’re probably not even the most strongest, smartest or even corrupt of them either.

Faith then does everyone a massive favour and kicks Gigi straight into the axe but sadly, Faith had only intended to knock the girl out and not do her in. Faith’s reaction is out of disgust and sadness and even Gigi before snuffing coolly recognises the outcome of her fate. I almost a “Last Of The Time Lords” The Doctor/The Master type of scene except what I see here is kind of better.

Roden isn’t one to miss an opportunity and instead of healing Gigi, he’s quick to offer to help Faith rid the world of Buffy and to point out that his former charge was a means to an end. Showing Faith the book with the Twilight inspires her to whack him across the face with. Clearly the girl isn’t for conversion.

However one thing that is noteworthy is how rather sexist Roden seems to be. He berates Faith for a twenty something slayer who is still alive and even has a go at Giles about his determination to wipe out every slayer in existence. Look we all know what happens to sexist creeps on this show. If you’re Warren you get flayed by Willow and if you’re Caleb you get sliced in half by Buffy. So what cool comeuppance can be waiting for Roden?

With Giles in the mix and Faith released from her stone prison, I can tell you one thing – garden shears won’t end Roden. Giles does make a good effort with them but Roden is impervious to being stabbed in the back. Perhaps in a literal sense it’s something that has happened to him on a regular basis.

However Giles using one of Roden’s mystical fields by putting it inside the devious warlock does the trick as Roden’s head literally explodes. There are times when I can forget Giles’ dark side. This act of ingenuity more than serves as a great reminder. It’s kind of sad that both Gigi and Roden have been killed because they’ve been amazing villains but hats off to the superb ending both of them had. I also dig the fact that Faith puts her hand on Giles’ shoulder and tells him they should leave.

There’s the thing. In the last two issues I was disappointed with the lack of Giles and Faith interacting with each other after the wonderful moments they had at the start of this arc. Their last scene here more than makes up for it. Faith has fulfilled her obligation and Giles keeps his end of the bargain by giving her a passport, cash and a plane ticket only for Faith to have a turn around.

She might not relish bloodshed with the same lust when we met her back in “Faith, Hope And Trick” but seeing Gigi die has made her realise that there will be other bad slayers out there. Instead of wanting to kill them, Faith comes up with the idea of trying to rehabilitate before they go over the deep end.

What’s even better is that not only does Giles fully support the idea he also wants a piece of the action and suggests a partnership with Faith to which she agrees. Both of them note that Buffy might not be thrilled but the hell with Buffy; this is one of the best plot developments going. I love that Giles is putting himself in a mentoring position with Faith. The more positive influences that girl has around her the better, right?

Last but not least if this issue wasn’t amazing enough, we’ve finally got a bigger idea of Twilight. Instead of it being an organisation, it’s actually a person. Better than that it’s the same one who was spying on Buffy during the castle raid in the first issue. Even better than is his explanation to Lieutenant Molter is that he was using Gigi and Roden as pawns and is delighting in the friction between Buffy and Giles. This guy wants to end magic and it looks like he could possibly succeed.

Also in “No Future For You Part 4”

Covers for this issue included a naked Faith burning her dress (I got that one) and Steed/Peel drawing of Faith and Giles.

Genevieve: “You’re not even English are you? Where is that horrid accent from anyway? New York?”
Faith: “Ouch. That hurts. For the record I’m a Boston girl. You know like the tea party.”

Those statues in the conservatory looked like they were of Greek women. Gigi’s mum certainly has extravagant tastes.

Genevieve: “I should have listened to Roden.”
Faith: “Who, Lucky Charms? If you want someone to be pissed at, try him. Trust me, Dude is gonna be the death of you.”
Genevieve: “He may push me but Roden’s also my best mate. Something I doubt you’ve ever had.”

Giles: “You can’t give up Trafalgar.”
Trafalgar: “Tell that to my last hundred wives. I’m sorry but it’s gonna take arts darker than mine to get you to the other side.”

Why did Buffy have that phone exchange with all of the slayers around there? Was she trying to shame Giles in a way?

Willow: “Is … is everything okay, Buffy?”
Buffy: “Do what you can for him.”
Xander: “Er, maybe the boss just needs some alone time.”
Buffy: “What other kind is there?”

Genevieve (re Roden): “He knows I can handle myself. He trusts me. He adores me.”
Faith: “Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. But either way, part of you knows something ain’t right cause you’ve never deserved to be loved by anyone.”

There’s a promo in this issue for cover artist Jo Chen’s upcoming The Other Side. Premise wise it sounds pretty interesting.

Faith (to Genevieve): “If you’re so sick of the bad dreams, then wake the fuck up.”

Faith: “I never meant -”
Genevieve: “Yeah but it’s like the song goes.”

I wonder if Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word is the song Gigi is alluding to. I’m interested in finding out.

Faith (taking the book): “Thanks but I ain’t much of a reader.”
Roden: “Keep it anyway, luv. I already know how it ends.”

Roden: “You desperate old git. Did you honestly just try to use one of my own containment spells against me? I can break out of any mystic field ever enchanted.”
Giles: “I know. That’s why I put one in you. Burst.”

This issue was at least twenty four pages long. Apparently the next issue “Anywhere But Here” will be twenty five pages.

Giles: “I’m afraid I wouldn’t know. Buffy and I aren’t on speaking terms at the moment.”
Faith: “Then I guess we’re on our own, huh?”
Giles: “It would appear so.”

Molter: “How can you see a victory when Buffy’s narrow ass lives to fight another day?”
Twilight: “Let her have her day, Lieutenant. Night falls soon enough.”

No Dawn in this issue, which isn’t too bad as she factors in a big role in the next issue.

This arc started off so well and “No Future For You Part 4” ensured that it ended so brilliantly. In fact this entire arc could rival some of the best episodes in sci-fi and fantasy television and definitely even certain Buffy episodes. That being said, I bet not have to wait a long time to see Faith and Giles and I’m so psyched about this Twilight arc now more than ever.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My review of Angel's 6x01: "After The Fall Part 1"

Written by Brian Lynch
Artwork by Franco Urru

Angel (to himself): “I don’t tell them they’re here because I took a stand. My friends stood by me. Wolfram and Hart sent an army. There were losses on both sides.”

Eight months and eight issues after the successful launch of Buffy’s eighth season in the comic format, it was inevitable that fans of Angel were going to get the same sort of continuation from the series. Low and behold it’s here but as a hardcore fan, even I had reservations about this comic.

First off I loved the fifth and final season and absolutely detested the WB and their bullshit reasons for cancelling it. However I do have some hang ups that over three years have not gone away. I may be in a minority but I hated the writers for adding Spike into the mix and the contrived way they tried to fit him in with the gang and although Illyria had her uses, she was something we could’ve done without too.

The biggest problem I had with Season Five was the beyond idiotic decision of Joss Whedon’s to kill off 80% of his core characters. Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn and Fred were every bit as vital to the series’ success as Angel and I still can’t rack my brains around why Joss would do such a thing.

Season Six’s opening issue however does kick into the action rather speedily as we see a girl in a clearly near devastated LA trying to escape the clutches of a savage demon. In the first page Angel muses about some of his crappier decisions, the biggest one being insane enough to join Wolfram And Hart. Yeah, there’s nothing like losing your friends and hell on earth to come to that conclusion.

Fortunately Angel does what he does best and slays the demon determined to kill the unfortunate lady. Even better is that the dragon Angel wanted to slay is actually helping him and there’s nothing more impressive than seeing Angel’s new pal scorch an entire army of demons. Yeah, now that we’re in comic land we’re getting to see things that you would die to see onscreen.

Funnily enough Angel then shifts his attention on the girl and two of her mates doing a bit of looting and scolds them. One of the pals is quick to point out that they’re stealing for survival. LA really has become quite the hell dimension but Angel just gives the girl and her friends an address for a place for them to hide before taking off with the dragon.

The girl is quick to wonder why LA has become the way it has over the last couple of months and it’s not much of a surprise that Angel has heard this time and time again. He points out that he’s responsible for how badly things have shaped out. Wolfram And Hart weren’t best pleased with Angel’s attempts to take them down in “Not Fade Away” but even Angel couldn’t have foreseen the evil law firm seeing LA quite literally to hell.

Concept wise, this is pretty damn cool. Compare this to any classic apocalyptic going and that is the rumoured outline to what a televised sixth season of the series would’ve been like. Angel’s also quick to point out that it took the humans longer to figure out they were in deep shit while many of the demons took advantage of the misfortune and carved out their own territories.

Angel’s heroics at the start are then challenged by the revelation that not only is he still living in Wolfram And Hart but he’s set upon by the surviving demons’ leader and the leader’s father Burges.

Burges is established as the lord of downtown LA but it’s his bratty son who wants payback for the scorched army and smacks Angel around as a means of getting even. To say I didn’t want this demon killed there and then would be an understatement but mouthy demons are nothing compared to Wesley stepping out of a white room.

I know the last time we saw Wesley he was dead but here he seems to breathing and cool. He’s not exactly jumping up to save Angel’s life in the physical sense but he does get Burges’ annoying away from decimating Angel, so there’s points there. Wesley even makes a sarcastic crack about denying Angel his TV privileges to which neither Angel or Burges’ brat find particularly. Too bad because I could imagine Alexis Denisof delivering that line quite well onscreen.

Now before you ask, Wesley hasn’t been miraculously resurrected (which sucks because no matter how cheesy, I want Cordy, Gunn, Fred and Wesley back and breathing). Instead his ghost is legally bound to Wolfram And Hart and he’s now the liaison between them and Angel. Well anything is better than Eve or Hamilton I suppose.

Still while he’s forced to help out the evil law firm it doesn’t altogether mean that Wesley is evil as he does ask Angel what happened to the people Angel rescued. Please tell me there’s some nice plotting against Wolfram And Hart because I’m not too thrilled with the idea of Angel and Wesley being total pawns for them.

The people themselves have managed to get as far as Santa Monica in their quest for safety. Between some quips about Angel being hot but untrustworthy, the bigger issue is to whom Angel has sent these people to. I was kind of hoping that perhaps Gunn would factor here but it’s mainly a hotel full of a human/good demons and then there’s electro girl Gwen Raiden.

Last seen in Season Four, Gwen is the first familiar face to see if the distressed people are good guys but it’s werewolf Nina Ash’s tactic that’s more interesting. If you can’t get enough of the gay subtext between Faith and Gigi, then Nina coming up to a former lawyer and licking her face is quite erotic if creepy.

Interestingly enough both Gwen and Nina have a leader and it makes sense their commander happens to be Connor. He saw the carnage that LA was heading for and it makes sense that he would want to help. Also can I say that a Connor/Gwen/Nina team is a good idea? Angel needs as many decent allies as he can get and we need decent characters to.

Back in Wolfram and Hart, while Angel is getting healed up by a mystic spider of sorts, there’s a very interesting exchange between him and Wesley that not only could be a reflection on the bleaker elements of Season Five but also of what this season could have in store for us too.

Wesley challenges Angel about both of them being unable but also he expresses some disapproval of Angel’s decision to save civilians and put them under Connor’s care. He’s also quite negative about the idea of Angel still trying to defeat Wolfram And Hart. I don’t want to sound overtly romantic but I’d like to think there will be some form of a happy ending in this season.

I like that Angel is still determined to try and fix this mess. Regardless of what Wesley is saying (or perhaps being forced to say by the senior partners), there’s something that has to be undone about this mess. It’s also alarming that the ever useless Powers That Be aren’t making some effort to help Angel. They should be via the use of Cordelia/Fred.

Still there might be some flicker of hope for Angel as while Wesley is telling him to get some control, there’s an image of a sphere. It’s the same sphere that’s also stuck inside the skeletal demon KR’PH who has taken over a stadium and is forcing those he’s kidnapped into a battle of his own.

Surrounded by a hoard of scantily clad women, other demons and would be warriors, the thing that stands out the most is a telepathic fish in chains called the Splenden Beast. Then again anything is slightly better than the humans talking about their former occupation.

When I first heard that a telepathic fish was going to be a canonized character in the sixth season, I slightly groaned. I really shouldn’t have because the fish in question is actually quite cool. Visually he’s one of the best drawn things in the entire issue but also I liked his resentment in being forced to brain yell at the hapless humans to fight each other. Plus he gets a witty comment or two in his short sequence.

KR’PH might like to think he’s a big bad in the making but as the Splenden Beast points out, there’s some humans who are more angered rather than scared of him. KR’PH learns that the hard way when a gang lead by Gunn storm into the stadium and not only do they slaughter his arm but they kill him on the spot and steal the sphere. Surely Angel should be pleased about this development but then him and Gunn haven’t interacted in this issue.

Gunn’s a bit more flirtatious and cocky here than I remember him last but it’s not a bad thing. He’s got a neat little gang and he even frees the women. However the biggest shock of the entire issue is that Gunn also happens to now be a vampire and ends this issue by feasting on one of the women. It’s incredibly given what happened to his sister and how much he hates the blood suckers himself. Not altogether sure I like that particular development.

Angel on the other hand gets a little bit of a zest by killing that tedious brat of Burges but it also means he’s officially declaring war on the demon kind of LA while Wesley walks cryptically back into the white room. If Twilight is a foreboding sense of danger in Buffy, then this hell on earth and the further evil machinations of Wolfram And Hart could very well beat it. That being said I dig that Angel isn’t prepared to totally surrender even he has been massively losing this battle so far.

Also in “After The Fall Part 1”

There are five covers for this issue with two of them being the same. The one I bought was Angel in prayer mode.

Female Lawyer (to Angel): “One minute everything was fine and then … I didn’t deserve this! I’m a good person! I’m a lawyer.”

This issue opened with Angel saying the same thing he said in “City Of”. It started with a girl. Only this time, the girl has changed.

Angel (to himself): “Go against their rules, the punishment would be worse. Not sure how but they’re Wolfram and Hart. They not only know of places worse than hell, they have timeshares there.”

Burges: “So vampire how was work? Slaughter lots of big bad monsters?”
Angel: “It’s not work when you love what you do. Always a pleasure Burge.”

Wesley is dressed in the way we met him back in Buffy’s third season. Parts of that personality are also surfacing too.

Angel: “They were trying to kill people. Right under my nose. Can’t help but notice your grip is getting tighter.”
Wesley: “Now Angel I’m sure they weren’t trying to kill the humans. They were trying to enslave them.”

Angel: “I don’t even know why I carry one with me. Haven’t had to use one for months. Remember when vampires were our biggest problem?”
Wesley: “Only when you went bad.”

Someone online said the hotel where Connor, Gwen and Nina were staying was the Hyperion. Not entirely sure if that’s true but it would make sense.

Gwen (to civilians): “Chill out hotshot, just wanna see if you’re on the up and up.”

Nina: “No it’s the sun/moon situation. They’re both out at once. Do you have any idea what that does to a werewolf?”
Female Lawyer: “Makes you hungry?”
Nina: “No.”
Female Lawyer: “Makes you bi-curious?”

Angel mentioned a female’s death being the reason behind his decision to take on Wolfram and Hart. It has to be Cordelia and Fred. Because of W&H, at least one of them is dead.

Angel (re spider creature): “Do I feel it? This thing is alive?”
Wesley: “Something in this room should be. It’s not capable of emotion.”

Cop: “Warrior? I was a cop.”
Bouncer: “I was a bouncer. That’s kinda like a warrior, I guess.”

What exactly does that neat little orb do that both Angel and Gunn were in pursuit of it?

KR’PH: “A gaggle of mongrels die for every second you don’t brain yell.”
Betta George: “Man, does everyone hate you?”

Gang Member (re KR’PH): “You hear that Gunn? Man wants to help us get what we want.”
Gunn: “Oh, I know he can. He’s just not going to be the biggest fan of how.”

Because this is IDW comics, there’s a promo of their upcoming Doctor Who comics featuring The Doctor and Martha.

Gunn: “You may have been a team before I joined but I trained. Plus I co-ordinated the outfits.”
Gang Member: “You made us wear these.”

Angel (to himself): “I was told not to leave this building, not one step. I was also told that everything I was doing was wrong. A friend said it, face to transparent face. Thing is … everything’s different and I don’t know who told him to say it.”

No Spike, Illyria, or Lorne in this issue. None are referenced by either Angel, Wesley or Gunn.

Angel (to himself): “It all begins with a stake to the eye. Of course this might be exactly what Wolfram and Hart wants, that’s fine. Let them think they’re in charge. Wolfram and Hart have taken away everything I had. Everyone I cared for, everything I was. But that’s how I’m going to win. They think they’ve changed me.”

Chronology: A few months since “Not Fade Away”, possibly around the same time as Buffy’s “The Long Way Home”.

Well this surreal. In a lot of way the maxi-season (12 issues) of “After The Fall Part 1” captured a lot of interesting angles. The cruel fates handed to both Wesley and Gunn certainly up the ante and the lack of Spike and Illyria certainly helped proceedings. Looking forward to the next issue. The artwork however in some places is a little on the iffy side.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x08: "No Future For You Part 3"

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Genevieve (to Buffy): “Have you forgotten your manner, colonist? When in the presence of royalty, you belong on your knees.”

By any chance would Gigi have a bit of class discrimination issue with Buffy as well as that little desire of her to dethrone the girl and lead the slayers into her skewered version of glory? Only in the same way as the writers are currently striking in America of course.

Fresh from finding out that Buffy is on Gigi’s hit list, Faith then has to endure listening to the bitch showing her every bit of surveillance she’s acquitted of Buffy from the last couple of months and Faith then comes to the conclusion that perhaps killing Gigi is less to do about saving the world and more to do about saving Buffy’s ass instead.

Faith may not be able to mask her horror over the idea of her new pal revelling in the idea of murdering someone to gain leadership but Gigi is more than happy to point out that Buffy is a misguided leader worthy of being killed. Buffy has had her crappy moments when in came to leadership and newbie slayers in Season Seven but killing her might be a tad extreme.

Not that I’m convinced that Gigi will actually be successful in pulling off her overly ambitious mission. Buffy’s pretty seasoned as a slayer whereas Gig is still quite the newbie. Buffy might have her faults but so does Gigi, especially given the fact that Roden is pulling her strings a lot.

Getting back to the issue of Faith’s opening monologue – did Giles send her on this dangerous mission just to protect Buffy? If so, I can’t blame Faith for being a tad resentful for this. Not that saving Buffy’s life isn’t important or good but it sucks that Faith is still an outsider with the Scoobies and yet Giles will still given her a dangerous job, like that power unknown slayer who got slaughtered by Yamanh in “The Chain”. Compared to them, Buffy’s having a cushy time of it.

However when Giles is in the forest trying to communicate with Faith via the walkie-talkie, you do get the impression he does care. He got in a dwarf called Trafalgar in order to try and break whatever barrier Roden has installed over Gigi’s residence. I want Giles to care about Faith’s wellbeing. No-one in the newly formed Scooby gang should be a spare part, except maybe Andrew who I still loathe and all.

An interesting thing that’s mentioned by Trafalgar during the Faith search is that he thinks Faith might have switched allegiances. Maybe it’s not an irrational fear and Giles’ lack of a response could be telling because for all the good that Faith is attempting to do now, that dark side of hers still isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

She may not be convinced of Gigi’s master plan but she certainly enjoys the create comforts of her new pal’s life and sharing a bath with Gigi could be seen as a bit homoerotic. Some of the stuff Gigi tends to say in regards to Faith could be construed as going beyond sisterhood.

Gigi’s lived something of a sheltered life and when she and Faith agree on something as innocent as a coronation band, Gigi admits to seeing Faith as a kindred spirit. One thing that seems consistent with Faith is that when someone gives her a sincere compliment or displays any sign of genuine affection she has to downplay and telling Gigi she needs to get out is probably her most subtle method to date.

Listening to Gigi ramble on about home schooling and pervy tutors is hardly exciting but hearing her talk about how she met Roden and the fact that he knew of her slayer like nightmares only emphasises that she’s clearly being used by the Irishman and the fact that he’s telling her that Buffy’s death would solve some of her anxiety is also interesting. Roden seems powerful enough to snuff out Buffy himself. Why go to all the trouble in getting a newbie slayer to do the deed?

Faith fortunately still with her brain intact does her real attempt to get through to Gigi by challenging Roden’s intentions towards her but Gigi is clearly not as smart as she likes to think she is and downplays her concerns. The fact that she even asks why Roden would lie directly to her face shows that he might not have had to do much manipulating after all.

Faith uses her bad experiences with men and presumably her rough surrogate father routines with Mayor Wilkins and Giles (remember she’s still convinced this is all about Buffy) to further try and get through to Gigi but that girl is so damn stubborn Faith might as well be talking to a brick wall. Clearly Gigi is going to have to find out the hard way that she’s no more a means to an end. I actually pity her in some ways, even if she is a total bitch.

She’s also rather sly in telling Faith that she has no intention of actually travelling far to get to Buffy. This then cuts to Buffy commending Willow about the new security system which if I remember correctly, Willow nearly bit Renee’s head off for suggesting.

Still there’s a nice moment between Buffy and Willow where the former compliments her witchy pal on making the place just a tad safer than it was five minutes before. Any scene that has an underlying reminder of the closeness of certain Scooby members is going to be a winner for me. Plus we haven’t had much stuff between Buffy and Willow as well in this comic book season.

However friendship stuff aside, Buffy isn’t entirely convinced the place is and asks Willow about sonic sonar and the castle’s moat. Willow isn’t getting Buffy’s need for the concern despite the fact that Amy was able to kidnap her and Warren had some fun torturing her. Maybe Buffy has a point to go overkill on the security but Willow raises the question of who exactly is funding the Scoobies to which Buffy is a little reluctant to divulge.

I assume the newly reformed Watcher Council is the primary benefactor but why the others would want to remain anominous is up to them. However why Buffy isn’t keen to tell Willow is annoying. Buffy has to realise that she isn’t responsible for every demon that attacks, it’s nearly everyone’s burden now. Basically anything that Buffy doing that isolation slayer crap is going to annoy me.

Then there’s also the thorny issue of human villains. Oblivious to recent threats like Yamanh and Gigi, Buffy is more focused on figuring out what she has the right to do in regards to General Voll. The guy happily admitted to stopping at nothing in order to take her and the slayers down but Willow raises the issue of killing humans being bad.

Much as I love Willow, she certainly didn’t take that piece of advice into account when she flayed Warren. While Buffy might be jumping the gun with the “kill kill” stance, do you honestly see someone like General Voll actually backing down or listening to reason?

Still Buffy gets to be at justified in her argument for stronger security when she finds herself being teleported away from the castle. Poor Willow for thinking she might actually be responsible for Buffy’s sudden disappearance.

Of course Willow had nothing to do with it as Roden was the SOB responsible for Buffy out of thin air. He did mention a battle that Gigi had to take part in for the evening and Gigi did tell Faith about not having to travel in order to kill Buffy. It doesn’t take much to figure out that Buffy had better in her best fighting stance.

Buffy’s quick to make with the threats when she isn’t decorating Gigi’s floor with puke and Faith is pretty horrified when she realises what’s about to go down. Gigi’s quick to tell Faith to enjoy Buffy’s imminent death as she greets her nemesis with a swift kick to the jaw.

In case it hadn’t been pointed out before, I’ll make it clearer now – Buffy doesn’t know a sodding thing about Gigi’s campaign to kill her and she’s not impressed when she finds out that Gigi’s a slayer. Come on Buffy this isn’t a unique experience – slayers are every bit as capable as going bad as are vampires going good. The girl needs to get out her castle a bit more.

The witty banter between the girls however is great. Gigi’s every bit as smug in person to Buffy as she was beforehand and Buffy doesn’t exactly slack on her quips either. More importantly Gigi’s actually able to belt her around the place a few times but mentioning that she’s slaughtered slayers before really rubs Buffy up the wrong way.

Only a few pages ago Buffy was showing little reservation in killing humans if needs must but hearing Gigi brag about slayer killing does bring out that righteous indignation of hers. Even more so it reverses the tables between Buffy and Gigi in terms of battle.

Thanks to Roden about to pull one of his tricks, Faith decides to make an appearance by throwing herself and Buffy out of a window. Once again, Buffy didn’t see that coming and Gigi’s pretty shocked when she learns the real name of her friend. Better brace yourself rich girl when you find out your pal is a commoner too.

You think that after getting transported to a mansion by a warlock and almost killed by another slayer, Buffy would be grateful for anyone who would bother to help her. Sadly Buffy chooses to jump to conclusions and instead of a decent thank you or demanding an explanation, Buffy just attacks Faith.

Maybe it’s not smart on Faith’s part to tell Buffy within a reasonable listening between them and Gigi and Roden that she’s doing undercover work for Giles but Buffy just beating the shit out of her annoyed me greatly. I even cheered when Faith lost it and nearly drown her. If Buffy gets to behave unreasonably why shouldn’t Faith?

Luckily though, despite her demons, Faith is still able to get a grip and let go off Buffy before telling to go away. Why is it that it’s acceptable for Buffy to forgive Angel and Spike and yet, it’s almost inconceivable of her to do the same with Faith? If anyone can give me a reasonable answer without using the soul crap, I’d appreciate it. Faith helped every bit as much in “Chosen” as anyone else. Buffy should’ve cut her some slack.

One big problem however is Giles. Bad enough that he and Rona sent a random slayer to pose as Buffy and then get her killed by Yamanh but the suicide mission with Faith and Giles couldn’t be bothered to tell Buffy? How are the Scoobies going to make any real difference if they can’t even alert each other on various problems? Buffy’s got a right to be mad at Giles, as does Faith and the former expresses this when Willow teleports her back. Giles has got some major explaining to do.

As for Faith, well this puppy’s been kicked enough so it doesn’t help when a visibly upset Gigi gets a little axe crazy. Gigi feels betrayed by the only person she’s probably ever felt a real connection to and Faith is emotionally drained. This cannot end well.

Also in “No Future For You Part 3”

Cover for this issue was Faith drowning Buffy but I hated that white background. The other cover had photos of Buffy, Faith and Gigi.

Faith (to herself): “Giles sent me on this suicide mission cause he said it was about saving the world but really it was just about saving his girl.”

There’s a flashback to a Season One episode of Buffy staking a vampire on the first page for some strange reason.

Genevieve (to Faith): “Buffy has forced our kind to be the serfs of this world when we should have been lording it over the masses. Once she’s gone we can finally lead her brainwashed slayers out of the shadows of servitude and into the light of.”

Trafalgar (to Giles): “I don’t mean K.I.A., Rupert. This target of hers, the one that’s gonna bring the end of all things, she must be living the high life, no? What if your girl has gone native?”

Giles mentioned that Faith was born for this mission. Why is that exactly? Maybe Faith has another connection to Gigi beyond slayer hood.

Faith: “Split the difference maybe.”
Genevieve/Faith: “Stone Roses.”
Genevieve: “See I told you we were kindred spirits. I knew that from the first moment I looked into your eyes.”

Genevieve: “The trick is to make them feel like they’re exploiting them when in reality we’re exploiting them.”
Faith: “Unless that’s what they want us to think. Gigi, please. Don’t go after this girl.”

Gigi seems to be a fan of the Arctic Monkeys which are a band I can take or leave. Brian K Vaughan does like his British music references a lot.

Genevieve (to Faith): “I appreciate your concern for my well being love but what makes you think I’m going anywhere?”

Willow: “Not killing humans is what separates us from the bad guys.”
Buffy: “No, not being bad is what separates us from the bad guys.”

Who else is donating money to the slayer cause? Seriously I’m curious.

Buffy: “You better have a kick ass reason for bringing me here or I’m gonna do worse than honk all over your floor.”
Roden: “As a matter of fact the guidebook says you’re about to bleed all over it as well.”

Buffy: “For the people who invented girl power your sense of sorority sucks.”
Genevieve: “Brilliant.”

Gigi is left handed showing by her sword attack. Great, another left handed/evil stereotype (I’m left handed too).

Faith: “I’m on your team.”
Buffy: “You have a hilarious way of showing it.”

Faith (to herself, re Buffy): “Do it. Whenever she’s around, you’re the villain. But as soon as she’s gone you’re the hero. That’s right. Never forget how deep she cut you. Never forget how deep.”

I’m actually surprised the cover of this issue with Faith drowning actually happened in the story. Can that be a recurring trend from now on?

Faith: “Please shut up.”
Buffy: “Who are you talking to?”
Faith: “I wish you’d just go away.”

Willow: “What happened? Who did this?”
Buffy: “Get me Giles.”
The next issue is also out on December 5th. Also Buffy doesn’t react well to being teleporting whether it’s passing out in “Two To Go” or puking twice in this issue.

Faith (to herself): “All alone. Same as always. Whatever. Too tired to fight anymore. Too tired to -”
Genevieve (re Buffy): “You let her go, didn’t you? I thought you were my friend.”

No Xander, Dawn or Andrew in this issue. Also the lack of Amy/Warren discussion is a bit grating.

This was another easily engrossing issue. “No Future For You Part 3” did feel a bit faster than the previous issue but this entire arc is more along so much stronger that you don’t care. I can’t wait to see how this whole thing gets resolved. Don’t let me down, Brian.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x07: "No Future For You Part 2"

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Faith (to gargoyles): “Yo rock. Meet hard place!”

With such a mind blowing start to this arc, the second issue could only continue to excel and starting off with a flashback from “Graduation Day Part 1” when Buffy and Faith’s rooftop fight led to the latter being comatose for eight months is a good way of kicking things off.

Symbolism or not, Faith’s musings about her relationship with Buffy going from great to rotten to passable in five years is a nice way of reminding viewers that things are never really resolved easily in the Buffy verse. You can redeem yourself or be redeemed but your past never goes the heck away, does it?

It also harkens Faith’s desire of flying solo when she comes to the deduction that maybe her and Buffy would’ve been better off if they never had met each other. In some ways it makes Faith sound a bit self-pitying but that isolation thing is probably the only thing I would ever have in common with Faith. I know what it’s like to feel a bit excluded from others.

Looking stunning in her green dress and tightly pinned up hair, Faith makes her to Genevieve’s place as Giles reminds her to get in there and kill the girl without hesitation. Giles isn’t particularly sensitive about the idea of Faith having to kill a human. Perhaps seven years in Sunnydale really has desensitised him.

Unfortunately because Faith is in something of a weird headspace, her response is getting rid of the communication device which means that not only is Giles unable to help her but she might have also shafted herself when she does eventually run into trouble. It’s obvious that Faith will have hiccups with this mission and she really did pick the worst time to refuse help. Don’t go all Season Six Buffy on us dear.

Blagging herself into Genevieve’s birthday party is the easiest thing in the world given that all she has to do is sound like some posh bitch from Emmerdale and the imbecile of a security guard lets her in without much protest. Damn, no wonder Genevieve has to fear for her life. With staff as incompetent as this, Giles could’ve sent in an entire army of slayers without the fancy attire to nuke the girl.

Still Faith isn’t as five by five with the idea of killing Genevieve and although she rationalises what she’s about to do, the fact that Faith is proof that this girl has changed. For all her bravado and apathy, even the idea of killing someone for a good reason isn’t enough for Faith. Luckily the dialogue doesn’t make Faith sound like a total sap. You sympathise with her and understand her moral dilemma.

Amusingly Genevieve is oblivious to the fact that someone wants her dead so it’s up to her rather creepy mentor Roden to get the Wiggins about Faith. Faith might be able to fool a crowd of posh twats and Gigi but Roden not only doesn’t find her suspicious but is quick to order his little gargoyles to kill her if she acts out of character. And I though that Gigi made for an obnoxious host!

Getting away from Faith and high tailing back to Scotland, there’s a rather fun conversation between Dawn and Willow when the latter tries to find out more about how Dawn became a giant and naturally Dawn isn’t so enthusiastic to tell Willow about her sexual exploits.

I hate to admit that this plot is really beginning to grate a little bit. Dawn spent most of “The Long Way Home” refusing to talk to Buffy about what happened between her and Kenny because she felt more connected with Willow and now that Willow is back, Dawn still won’t talk. You almost think she wants to remain a giant, which wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that I don’t want to wait several months to see a plot I don’t really care about that much to be resolved.

There’s a time and place for Dawn to be private about what she gets up into the bedroom but given that she’s a freaking giant she might as well tell Willow the details so this plot can end and Dawn can get one that actually sees her contributing to the series overall.

Dawn’s issues with men are tapped upon nicely though and Willow has her own unique way of attempting to make the girl feel better. I like Willow and Dawn’s rapport and it’s annoying that just as Dawn was about to tell us something about how she became the way she is that Renee had to interrupt.

Renee’s brief scene was trivial enough, though she gets points for reminding Willow about being a techno geek as well as super Wiccan. Willow’s attitude on Voll being another threat to them is slightly disconcerting.

He might not be a gigantic demon like Yamanh but given that he’s killed Ethan Rayne, steered both Amy and Warren in the Scoobies direction and is connected to this whole Twilight mystery, I don’t think he can be easily dismissed either. Plus his violent hatred for Buffy is worrying in of it’s right too.

Willow does then wonder what happens when Voll will attack again to which Dawn and Renee both mention doing what they have to. Faith might not be the only who’ll have to take a human life in order to save the world. Then again it’s most like the Scoobies haven’t killed humans before either.

Speaking of which Faith takes a break from pretending to be posh to have a smoke and get her shit together until Gigi pops out and meets Faith. Her would’ve been a great opportunity for Faith to have actually killed the misguided slayer and get out of there but instead, they end sharing cigarettes and bonding over music. Hey girls are girls and even Genevieve can’t tolerate her own kind.

It’s perhaps a bit too obvious that Vaughan would try and have the girls bond over something trivial yet at the same time throw in the obvious hints that both Faith and Gigi are more alike than you would’ve imagined. Both girls have absentee fathers and drunken mums and neither likes to be bullshitted by other people, which they seem to be despite their determination not to.
Faith is clever enough to go by another name and it really does appear that she has little to do in earning Genevieve’s trust. Heck Genevieve is even happy to jest at the possibility of them being blood related which slightly kills the subtext between these two women.

If Gigi actually survives this arc, then Faith will have a shadow self in the same way she was shadowing Buffy back in Seasons Three and Four. There could be a lot of good potential there too. Anything is better than General Voll. At least Gigi seems like she could either way – we still don’t know whether she’s being used or is evil to the core. Voll is a righteous bore doing evil acts.

However Faith must’ve been acting a bit too shallow because Roden’s gargoyles are quick to pounce on her and even Genevieve’s protests for them to leave her alone does little to make an impact. Damn Roden really can’t be fooled. Too bad, Faith did actually appear convincing.

Still each issue needs an awesome fight sequence and whether it’s Buffy versus a gnarly lizard in a church, Willow and Amy taking to the skies or the Buffy Decoy getting annihilated by Yamanh, this issue has the spectacular pleasure of Faith being hauled in the air by two gargoyles and getting bitten by one before she uses one of her knives to stab one of them in the eye.

Something like this would be pretty expensive for a TV budget so in comic world, you get to go all out Faith is smart enough to get on top of one of those gargoyles and cover its eyes which then forced it to crash down in the garden.

Already nearly ripped to pieces, punching a gargoyle proves useless for Faith. You’d think after fighting The Beast in Angel Season Four, she’d know that but at least Faith is coming up with some neater ideas and there’s nothing more fun than watching Faith wisecrack as she gets both of her oppressors to literally crash into the other and explode.

Faith was never going to be physically strong to actually destroy these things together so having her use her ingenuity to get them to nuke each other is the best thing she could’ve done. Plus it impressed the hell out of Genevieve even if Faith took her victory by passing out. I could imagine how Eliza Dushku or her stunt double would feel if they actually had to film something like that when the show was on the air.

That being said if Roden didn’t have his suspicions of Faith beforehand, her little performance with the gargoyles certainly roused that magic wand of his and to be honest, even though he’s the bad guy, I did feel a bit bad for him during the last moment.

It’s his job to manipulate and protect Genevieve and it’s a bit hard to do that when the girl shows rebellion by defending Faith left, right and centre. Roden made the point that because Faith is another slayer, she’s also a threat but Genevieve is too busy thinking how useful Faith could be on her side to consider that.

Faith is probably the first person in quite a while to actually talk to Gigi like she’s a normal person and because of it, Gigi thinks they are alike. We already know that Genevieve is a mirror of what Faith used to be and you can’t help but wonder whether or not Faith might make an attempt to appeal to her better nature instead of trying to kill her.

If Faith is considering that option then she better act fast. She might have Gigi slightly wrapped around her finger but Roden doesn’t trust her and Genevieve is quick to point out that she intends to kill Buffy so she can lead the slayers into greatness. It’s also amusing that Genevieve is under the assumption that Faith isn’t aware of her slayer prowess too.

Also in “No Future For You Part 2”

Covers this issue included a dressed up Faith and pensive Giles or Buffy, Genevieve and Faith at a staircase. Pity Giles didn’t factor as much in this issue as I thought he would’ve.

Faith (to herself): “Anyway live and learn. Almost die and learn way more.”

Faith putting her knives in her hair looked like something that could’ve came out of Alias. The security barely even checked her out.

Faith: “Let me inside before I have you sent back to whichever stable house detail your superiors mistakenly pulled you out of.”
Security Guard: “You’re one of them alright. Give her worshipfulness my love.”

Roden (to his gargoyles): “Girl is making my wand tingle and not in the good way. If she so much as curtseys too shallow, turn her bones into dust.”

Diamond wise Faith is wearing green, Roden red, Genevieve white and Willow also green. Any significance behind this?

Willow: “And speaking of clothes, have you been wearing the same outfit ever since you … blossomed?”
Dawn: “What, did my proportionate stench tip you off? ‘Cause unless Lane Bryant redefines ‘plus size’ in a hurry it’s only gonna get worse.”

Dawn: “You don’t understand, he was the only guy on campus who treated me like a friend, not a walking pair of boobs.”
Willow: “Oh sweetie, don’t talk like that. Boys are into you because of your legs not those itty bitty things.”

Isn’t it a bit weird that Willow hasn’t talked about Warren being alive? That’s got to have some emotional impact on her and it’s annoying that the writers aren’t talking about it.

Willow (re General Voll): “What are we supposed to do when they actually get here?”
Renee: “Whatever we have to.”
Dawn: “All’s fair.”

Genevieve: “Mind if I bum a fag?”
Faith: “What do I care? You can bum whoever you … oh.”

It turns out that both Faith and Gigi are fans of Amy Winehouse. Which is interesting because there’s someone with even more issues than Faith.

Genevieve: “I just had to get away from the vast sea of idiots in there. They’re all hopelessly fake they make me want to slit my wrists.”
Faith: “I know what you mean.”

Faith: “Dad may as well be a ghost and Mum is a filthy drunk.”
Genevieve: “You sure we’re not sisters?”
Faith: “Maybe in a different -”

Faith uses the pseudonym of Hope Lyonne to gain Gigi’s trust. It’s as close to Faith Lehane as you can get.

Faith (to herself): “I wish I had Giles for this, at least to say goodbye. But I just had to throw him away. Why am I such a dick to every guy who’s the least bit nice to me?”

Faith (to gargoyle 1): “Just try to grope me frat boy. I’ve made bigger bruisers like you cry little -”

I just noticed that although Faith’s dress in the comic is green, the cover has her in a purple one. Also Roden was the one spying on Buffy in Issue 1.

Roden (re Faith): “Not a threat? Are you mad? She turned my boys to rubble.”
Genevieve: “After they attacked her unprovoked and she was brilliant. I could use someone like her at my side.”

Faith: “Um, duh?”
Genevieve: “I’m not talking about nobility, I’m talking about an ancient force that you and I and a lot of other girls have tapped into.”

The next issue is out on November 7th according to Dark Horse but the latter page says November 11th.

Faith: “You want to kill Elizabeth.”
Genevieve (pointing to pictures of Buffy): “No Hope, not Elizabeth.”

Chronology: Given the Doctor Who reference in the previous issue and Amy Winehouse, I’m willing to say 2006.

This is definitely shaping up to be quite the page turner as “No Future For You Part 2” builds on the success of the previous issue and has Faith in a right pickle. Genevieve is turning out to be quite the interesting little adversary.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x06: "No Future For You Part 1"

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Giles: “This isn’t a game, Faith. I’m not talking about staking the undead. I’m asking you to end the life of a human being.”
Faith: “Heard you the first time. So who is this evil bitch anyway?”

As much as I was looking forward to the thought of Buffy The Vampire Slayer continuing onto an eighth season via comic books, I have to admit that as soon as I heard we were gonna get a major Faith arc, I really just wanted to fast forward through the first five issues but then again you can’t do that with comics.

Six months after its launch, Faith’s arc is finally in my possession and things start on an interesting note with the rogue slayer offering some insight into her relationship with her mum but if you were hoping that post “Chosen”, Faith’s cynicism had subsided, then think again. I should find it a grind but I don’t.

Having a cigarette and a broad on top of a massive statue in Cleveland mightn’t sound like the most enticing way of opening her arc but a quick call from ex-lover Robin Wood means that Faith will have to put her sombre on hold.

Which she kinda does by cheekily asking him if he was calling for some nookie and alas to her, Robin was more focused on business as opposed to any real pleasure. For a moment Faith did look a bit disappointed in that reveal too.

I kinda thought Faith would end up dumping Robin and it would be interesting to see why things didn’t work out between them. Perhaps Faith couldn’t hack being in a stable relationship or maybe Robin had difficulty negotiating around her nihilism. It’s too bad as Robin looked like he could’ve been a good influence on her.

Anyways his real reasons for calling involved a group of vampires that have turned a single mother and Faith is given the rather shitty task of having to check on the woman’s kids despite Robin having a full team of slayers who could’ve easily done that themselves.

The reason why Faith gets saddled with the task is because all five of the woman’s children were turned into vampires and Robin assumed that Faith would be able to wipe them without feeling any emotional entanglement.

Unfortunately the problem with that scenario is that while Faith was able to kill the children she did feel something and the first thing she did upon returning to her dingy flat was to punch a stake through the wall. It’s been well over a year since she helped the Scoobies end The First’s reign and she’s still got some deep rooted emotional scars that she’s not exactly hiding either.

It also doesn’t help that Giles pops up out of nowhere with a job offer for the girl. Given that the Scoobies haven’t exactly remained steadily in contact with her for over a year, Faith’s unwillingness to want to help Giles seems justified. She might hate being stuck in Cleveland but the idea of being reduced to a dogsbody has does more to damage her confidence. Even if I didn’t love the character as much as I do, I still wouldn’t have a problem feeling sorry for her.

While Giles isn’t exactly the warmest to her at the start, his mission for Faith is a lot more than randomly killing a demon. I’d like to think that maybe Giles is learning from the mistake of sending some random girl to her own doom in “The Chain” but for the time being, it seems that anyone is fair game for dangerous missions in this season, except for Buffy herself.

No Faith gets bestowed with the wonderful task of having to kill a Slayer, so for a brief time she can imagine what Buffy might have had to feel when Faith herself was considering worthy of assassinating in Seasons Three and Four but admittedly, Faith is surprisingly shocked at the suggestion of having to kill a human being.

Giles doesn’t exactly mince her words either as the first thoughts of possibly rehabilitating the unbalanced slayer are quashed. According to every Augur, this girl is mad, bad and downright dangerous so upon realising that she really doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter, Faith agrees to do it. After all getting out of Cleveland and a pension plan is too good to give up, even for Faith.

As for the evil bitch, her name happens to be Lady Genevieve Savidge and she’s an infuriating little spoilt rich kid who has to train with an Irish man named Roden. Naturally the girl doesn’t take too well to Roden’s attempts of getting her to concentrate on the job at hand and even threatened to tell her father what they are really up. Something tells me her father is probably in on it as well.

As for what they are up, what do a lot of English toffs like to do? Well if it’s on horseback it tends to involve hunting and for Genevieve it’s not foxes she’s tracking down but other slayers. I have to admit Roden is pretty good if he’s already turning her against her own kind this quickly in the game.

The terrified slayer attempts to get away from her captors and even makes a swift kick at Gigi’s chest but the evil girl is able to kill her counterpart with a swift blow. This has to raise the question – what the hell?

Slayers are strong yes, but they aren’t that strong that a single blow is able to nuke a fellow slayer and for a brief moment, Genevieve actually looks remorseful for having killed an innocent girl. However that quickly fades when Roden uses his own magic to summon two demons to dispatch of the body. Yeah, he’s a warlock and one who views himself as quite the stud. Why do I get the feeling that later on in this arc, Amy won’t be the only magical fiend Willow will have to engage in battle with?

Even more is the fact that while Genevieve may seem evil, you’re also teased with the notion that she might a pawn as opposed to an actual player. Giles mentioned her being a cause of ushering an impending apocalypse but the girl is quick to attack Roden for being put through a rigorous amount of tests and he also reveals himself to be connected to “Twilight”.

Someone online suggested that maybe this race of slayers are being framed for later posing a threat to humanity. This issue might just back that theory up. Genevieve mightn’t have a qualm for doing evil deeds but she’s still being manipulated. Either way she works brilliantly and more effectively as a threat to the Scoobies than General Voll has done so far.

Meanwhile not only does Faith have the responsibility of having to be the one who kills Genevieve but she also has to infiltrate herself into the world of British High Class Society and when Giles isn’t quickly reminding Faith that she has to actually gain Genevieve’s trust, Faith questions why she of all people has been picked for the task. Have to admit the girl’s got a point.

As slayers go, Faith has to be every bit as infamous as Buffy and therefore would be a recognisable target and when Giles attempts to tell her why she has been selected for this particular task, Faith gets a flashback and ends up stabbing Giles with a fork.

It’s the first real shock moment of the issue aside from slaying vamp kids. Faith’s childhood hasn’t been documented as being good and while Giles was perhaps attempting to comfort her, she was reminded of a moment in her life where one of her mother’s boyfriends (or even her father) displayed unjust cruelty to her. Again Faith has got issues and times like this, I wish to God this was actually being televised.

Giles’ reaction is pretty stunning too. Despite Faith actually hurting him, he plays the situation down and even draws some comparisons to his own past with hers too. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but either somewhere down the line Giles is going to have to pay more for his past sins or Faith is. Actually I have a feeling it’s both. Either way Faith was definitely touched by Giles’ gesture and seemed more cooperative in getting her etiquette right.

Breaking away from Faith just a little, what should be more delightful that a nice shot of a topless Xander working up his strength while taunting a punching bag. Xander has certainly buffed up since his Season Seven days and it seems his motivations are to help Renee with her training.

Buffy is quick to tease Xander and while we all know that Renee fancies the man once labelled as “The Zeppo”, this issue also sees Xander insisting that there’s nothing sexual in his and Renee’s relationship. Maybe he’s being sincere but what I can see, Renee certainly wouldn’t the worst choice in women and he doesn’t seem to be brooding for Anya that much either.

However Buffy has much bigger concerns than her friend getting laid and that includes the mysterious “Twilight”. Well after a cantankerous general tells you that slayers are literally the root of all evil, there’s no way Buffy couldn’t have taken things seriously but with the lack of communication between her and Giles, she still seems a bit in the dark.

Funny thing is that like with “The Long Way Home Part 2” she’s still dreaming of being chased by a monster and getting killed. The thing is, Buffy might have the resources that Sunnydale couldn’t afford but she’s still stalling and if Giles isn’t able to provide the intelligence, then Buffy needs to use her other sources and fast. Especially before Amy, Warren, Genevieve and Voll all try to her and her new band of slayers down.

The final scenes of this issue are something of a set up with Faith openly admitting that besides honing in her stiff upper lip, she hasn’t exactly perfected much else. Giles offers her some confidence and Faith admits to feeling ridiculous in her royal dress but Giles’s reaction of Faith in this particular will more than likely sum up the reaction of what reader will – Faith, you look hot!

Also in “No Future For You Part 1”

There are two covers for this issue. The one I purchased has Faith finishing spray painting her name over Buffy’s. If that doesn’t capture her character so well, then what does?

Faith: “I’m impressed Mr Principal. Most exes are too proud to make the late night booty call but not you, huh?”

On the cover of this issue it’s written in bold writing “Joss Whedon’s Season Eight”. This also is the first issue he hasn’t written.

Faith: “You’re off to great places. Today is your day.”

Giles: “I must say for cupboards this bare, you have an exceptional selection of Chamomiles.”
Faith: “What, those smelly bags? Use em on the dark circles under my eyes.”

What the hell kinda jumper was Giles wearing during his visit to Faith’s digs? It looked like a homage to The Beatles “Yellow Submarine”.

Kidnapped Slayer: “Look, I don’t know how many other people you nutters have kidnapped but this time you snatched the wrong girl.”
Genevieve: “Uhnf! You filthy little commoner. I loved that shirt.”

Roden (to Genevieve): “First off all, witches are newt eating old hags. I, on the other hand, am a rather passably attractive warlock. Secondly, you’re just going to have to be patient. As a wise man once said, you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat.”

In this issue Joss Whedon threw in a brief but lame explanation as to Warren being alive/technically dead and a hint about Tara.

Giles: “The only chance you have at finishing this slayer is by getting close to her through subterfuge and cunning.”
Faith: “Hey I like me some kink but if you think I’m going down-town on this chick, you chose the wrong slayer.”

Faith had some cool nicknames in this issue. Robin got to be Mr Principal, Giles Professor Turtleneck and Genevieve the Debutard.

Faith (to Giles): “Dude, how high are you? There must be a billion girls better suited for this My Fair Lady crap.”

Faith: “The thing I stabbed you with? It was a salad fork wasn’t it?”
Giles: “Er, no, actually the salad fork has a shorter handle and a wider tine base. But that’s as good a place to start as any.”

Neither Willow, Dawn, Andrew nor the newbie Slayers are present in this issue. Tell me Dawn becomes normal size sooner rather than later.

Xander (to Buffy): “Sorry, heh, thought I had the old danger room for the whole late night slot. So I could be alone with my you know, sweaty, shirtless shame.”

Buffy: “Made more sense than the dream I just bolted out of.”
Xander: “Trouble in Slumberland?”

Xander was wearing Sunnydale High Swim Team shirt. Nice to see not everything from Sunnydale perished.

Buffy (to Xander): “But right before it swallow me whole, the big smelly looks me right in the eyes and says ‘The Queen Is Dead’.”

The Monster Buffy saw in her nightmares looks like a wildcat with bird like wings and a lizard tongue. The title “No Future For You” comes from a Sex Pistols record called “Long Live The Queen”.

Faith: “I have no sodding idea.”
Giles: “Marvellous. I daresay your accent is nearly passable.”
Faith: “Good because I still suck at everything else you taught me.”

Giles: “Does your selection work all right?”
Faith: “If the goal is to make me feel like a complete idiot, then yes.”

If you’re a Doctor Who fan you’ll take delight in seeing David Tennant/The Doctor and Billie Piper/Rose Tyler outside Faith and Giles’ place. I know I did.

Faith: “So how we doing here?”
Giles: “Five by five.”

Chronology: None is specified from the last few issues.

I just knew that “No Future For You Part 1” was going to be amazing but even I was surprised with how excellent this would shape up to be. With the first five issues feeling slightly hit and miss in segments, this had the fortune of brilliant dynamics between Faith and Giles and the sense of advancing the Twilight mystery. Brian K. Vaughan deserves all the praise in the world for this excellent issue.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My Review Of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x05: "The Chain"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Paul Lee

Buffy Decoy (re being Buffy): “You know ironically I’m probably even less famous because of the name.”

If you’re one of those people who hated episodes in a particular series where nearly all the cast are absent and some random character is taking charge, then this issue might not be for you. Still though those kinds of episode can sometimes be preferable to an even lazier clip show.

In the UK Doctor Who not once but twice did episodes where the Time Lord and his companion were isolated from the adventure while a character was influenced into carrying the story.

The first episode “Love And Monsters” left a nasty taste with viewers but this year the sublime “Blink” kept them gripped. It’s kinda hard to determine how some people are going to take to a Buffy-lite issue. I’m not even sure how I totally feel about this despite the multiple readings of it.

Anyways things begin underground with a demon named Yamanh of Hoht holding the lifeless body of Buffy Summers over his head and gleefully telling his fellow demons that he is responsible for her death and that they should worship him, which the buggers seem more than happy to comply with.

It’s quickly established however that the woman who has died at the hands of Yamanh, while she may look like Miss Summers, is only a decoy. Yup remember in the first issue when Buffy mentioned there being two girls posing as her? For this standalone issue, Joss Whedon has decided to focus on the poor girl underground who evidently got the shitty end of the bargain.

Cutting to a brief scene where some boring football jock asks the girl with no name who the hell she is we then see our decoy underground with a sword in her hand and a fairy warning her to leave. What are the odds that a fairy (which strictly speaking is more akin to Charmed than Buffy) is going to be able to deter the girl pretending to be Buffy Summers?

The odds are none because this girl seems determined to take Yamanh down even though she’s told in no uncertain terms that he’s more likely to annihilate her than she is with him. There’s also a tender moment when the fairy tells Fake Buffy she loves her which is the only words of intimacy and confidence bestowed to the girl throughout the entire issue.

However because the time line is a little David Lynch this time we then cut to the girl before she was activated as a Slayer in high school moaning with her mates about having to share detention because one of the girls in their class is more popular with the boys than the Decoy and her two friends.

The dialogue in this particular scene sparkles and some of the pithy putdowns the Decoy bestows to her blonde mate would make the likes of High School Cordelia Chase proud. It’s nice that after the rather clunky lines in the previous issue the ones here are a vast improvement.

While comparing fascism to detention, the boring jock from a few pages ago confronts the girls and when the Decoy makes a crack at him over underwear she suddenly spasms and then we see Giles talking about “the chain”.

Giles’ appearance here is as always great but if you’re expecting a bigger role than the one he has had so far you may be in for a letdown but the spasm showing the Decoy being activated as a Slayer is pretty satisfying. Then there’s the bleakness of Rona saying “there is no truth”. Last time I checked The X-Files would beg to differ.

One of the most inspired moments of the comics so far was in Issue Three when we got that delirious sex fantasy with Buffy, Angel and Spike. This issue pulls off a quite cute and funny advert with Andrew and Vi who play husband and wife in a crafty attempt of getting new girls to come to them.

I guess with over 2000 girls currently activated, it’s not a bad idea and anyone else oblivious to the true meaning of the advert would probably dismiss it or upload it onto YouTube for fun. It’s also a nice and sweet way of having Andrew and reintroducing Vi. Does that mean Kennedy, Wood and Faith are soon to come?

Naturally the Decoy knows the meaning behind the ad and quickly she discovers she’s a Chosen One along with other girls who are trained by Rona, briefly mentored by Giles and some unknown lady but really it’s the girl’s soon to be thankless task of pretending to be Buffy that is once again highlighted.

Soon enough she’s back in the underground warning a demon that Yamanh had better be wary of Buffy’s imminent descent on his party while further stuff flashbacked to her still passed out in school and patrolling with a group of other slayers.

The high school stuff seems routinely pointless at this rate so it’s her team up with the other slayers and her need to adapt her newfound skills when she gets bit by a vampire during patrols while others are congratulating the punk slayer from Issue 2. Still at least one girl compliments the Decoy on having her back.

Then there’s the recruitment process itself as Rona tells the Decoy to seriously dye her dark hair into blonde and to maintain her new hair colour. When Rona mentions to the Decoy that no-one above ground can know she’s posing as Buffy and that no-one underground can know she’s faking it, you kinda feel like you already know that and that the girl isn’t stupid enough to actually get it.

Seeing Rona in a somewhat more authorative role only goes to demonstrate how so many of the characters have grown since Season Seven. Both Xander and Andrew have become more or less watchers so Rona dishing out advice to the girl and briefly explaining to a degree why she was saddled with the task of having to be Buffy is interesting.

However as good as the scene is, you can almost feel that with Giles and the actual Buffy instead of Rona that dramatically it would’ve been better. Yamanh and The Immortal may be dangerous but are they that dangerous that they really justify having not one but two girls pretending to be Buffy? From what I’ve seen, I don’t really think they are.

The Decoy herself goes from snarky in the playground, emotionally empowered when meeting fellow slayers to feeling completely nihilistic as she descends to the demonic underground all by herself which is another thing that doesn’t make sense if Yamanh is supposed to be so dangerous.

The girl raises some sensible questions as to why was she was picked to fake it as Buffy. Did Rona, Giles and that lady think she was physically capable and mentally strong to deal with a danger like Yamanh or were there thoughts more dismissive, so that her fear she was selected because she’s potential cannon fodder is justified?

I really can’t see that Giles and Rona would be that callous in their thoughts but then again sending a slayer underground pretending to be Buffy without any immediate backup also seems like a reckless plan. The real Buffy didn’t descend down the Hellmouth in “Chosen” by herself so why does this poor girl have to go it alone then?

Even before she has to face Yamanh there’s still having to pass a test set by a Slug race which included her being violated by slugs so to speak. Luckily the scene doesn’t come off as cheesy which if this was a televised episode then it might have done and there’s an amusing comment by the fairies in regards to the Decoy’s acquired BO from the slugs.

Of course the humour then has to subside so that Fake Buffy can actually coerce the warring slugs and fairies to put their petty differences aside and band together in order to take Yamanh. Her speech sounds pretty similar to the more dreary “live together, die alone” speeches from Lost.

The slugs take convincing but with them on board, there seems to be a perfect order for the Decoy and the good demons of the underworld to succeed before our last high school flashback has Decoy Buffy saving the jock from getting whacked by a truck and then him wondering how she’s survived getting whacked by it.

I’m not really sure why these scenes are necessary because post snark fest on the underwear and spasm, nothing seems to add up to the overall plot. I’m going to assume some general padding but would Joss be that complacent with a standalone? Surely those scenes have to have some relevance.

Underground and after much talking the Buffy Decoy and Yamanh are finally getting into the swing of their fight and sadly for our main character it more or less involves seeing her getting mauled by the demon before he delivered the final blow that kills and she motions about her feelings of connecting and wondering whether or not she actually made a difference in the ongoing fight between good versus evil. Before her death she notes the unlikely scenario of people knowing who she is but takes pride in knowing herself.

Also in “The Chain”

There are three covers for this issue. The one I have is the Decoy pulling her mask off and the other two include the Decoy descending on Yamanh’s nest and a homage to Uncle Sam.

Buffy Decoy: “Eggs?”
Fairy: “It’s not fatal and I didn’t do it.”

This is third issue in a row in which the swear words are bleeped out. If Joss can’t write them in properly then he shouldn’t use them.

Buffy Decoy: “You’ve really never touched a boy, have you?”
Blonde Girl: “I wouldn’t touch Mike Billenger without a Hazmat suit. Is that what they’re called?”

Andrew: “That’s right! Just dial 1-800-Chosen-1 to meet girls who have this alarming yet fun condition.”
Vi: “I will! Now I won’t be the only girl breaking vases.”

Some of the Slayers from Tales Of The Slayers as well Nikki Wood and The First Slayer popped up here. We also got The Master as well.

Buffy Decoy: “I listen. I don’t have a choice, way I’ve been and the truth is, it’s not cheesy like the commercial. It’s actually amazing.”

Slayer: “You should totally keep the sword.”
Simone: “Rather have a gun.”

Where exactly was this Buffy Decoy located? I kinda assumed she’s American and possibly in the Californian region.

Buffy Decoy: “You want me to be Buffy?”
Rona: “Sounds a lot more glam than it is. We’d be sending you underground. Under actual ground.”

Fairy 1: “This stench? We won’t abide it.”
Fairy 2: “We will scrub you with briars for a hundred days.”
Buffy Decoy: “Yeah that’s not a comfort. Now everybody stop talking a minute.”

The Slug king took the language of the last person who failed his test and one of the fairies planted eggs in the Decoy’s ears.

Slug King: “You are throwing us to the wolves?”
Buffy Decoy: “The wolves are here but you have each other. You have a will to survive.”

Buffy Decoy: “In the moments that matter even our own names are just sounds that people make to tell us apart. What we are isn’t that. The real questions run deeper. Can I fight? Did I help? Did I do for my sisters? My comrades, children and slimy slug clan.”

Two notable thing in this issue included Joss Whedon posing for an Equality Now advertisement and a dedication to Janie Kleinman at the end.

Buffy Decoy: “I tried to feel it. I tried to face the darkness like a woman and I don’t need anymore than that. You don’t have to remember me. You don’t even know who I am but I do.”

Chronology: It’s unspecified but I would presume sometime during or after “The Long Way Home Part 4”.

In this issue’s defence, “The Chain” could’ve been a lot worse a standalone and while we had to wait two months for something more low key, there are some interesting questions that do need to be looked at in regards to the training methods of the Scoobies and one is whether or not having girls pretend to be Buffy is such a good idea. Judging on what happened here, I would suggest not.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x04: "The Long Way Home Part 4"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

General: “Sound off! Who’s hurt? Stay calm, damn it.”
Buffy: “No. Panic.”

Each issue so far has ended with enough hooks to keep pulling us back in for some more and when your last one ends with the sudden reappearance of a character that should be long dead, it’s safe to say that answers are needed and fast too.

Of all the people Willow would have the misfortune to be kidnapped by, a vengeful Amy was bad enough but discovering that her boyfriend is Warren, still in his skinless state of people, I can’t help but wonder – what the hell?

Strapped down to a table, Willow gets a brief synopsis on why her most significant kill is still alive. Well first off all, after yanking off his skin, Amy managed to pull a Houdini and get Warren out of there before she could finish the job. The only other question is why Amy would do that?

It turns out that I’ll assume after their spat in “Doublemeat Palace”, Amy took to stalking Willow and saved Warren’s ass in the very hopes of causing further misery down the line. Warren is also very quick to point out that he was in on Amy’s punishment scheme from “The Killer In Me” and more interestingly that Amy’s magic is his skin.

The whole involvement on Willow turning into her nemesis in Season Seven could be cool. I hate the idea of Willow actually feeling bad for doing Warren so her involuntary having to become him is now made tolerable as a result.

As for the whole “her magic is my skin”, what can I say – Amy is an incredibly smart girl. If she’s been stalking Willow for all the this time then obviously she must have some idea that Warren is an avowed misogynist and is completely untrustworthy individual as well.

Her using her magic as a substitute for actually regenerating Warren’s skin is probably Amy’s way of keeping Warren in line. As useful as he might be in her personal vendetta with Willow, having some form of control over him is smart. We’ve seen Amy advance in the magic field so it’s unlikely that she’s unable to regenerate Warren’s skin, she’s just not doing for her own benefit.

Bigger question then would be why isn’t Warren trying to find ways of doing it himself? Like I said the guy is an avowed misogynist and there’s no way, grateful for not being totally killed would he willingly want to be under someone else’s thrall.

Then again, Warren is more naturalistically happy to exact some of his own revenge on Willow as he goes after her with an exactor knife while Amy just looks on. The Master and Lucy Saxon this lot aren’t as despite my fear of any eye injuries, not much terror is being generated.

Briefly cutting away from Warren’s revenge, we get an almighty pissed off Dawn smashing her fists into the castle walls and generally being reminded that she is a super size she isn’t super strong. It also sucks for poor Dawnie (who’s assertive I’m liking) that she’s unable to fit through the portal the gang are working on to get Willow back.

Buffy isn’t that much in trying to calm Dawn down and her efforts for attempting only resulted in Dawn rather insensitively telling Buffy that Willow is like a mum to her. I guess that is a bit consistent as Willow and Tara did parent Dawn between Seasons Five and Six but Xander was right on the money when he noted sarcastically how much Buffy must have loved that particular comment.

Getting some mini-witches to help open a portal seems to be taking it’s sweet time and it’s moments like this when you really miss Giles, who is the only other magic expert the Scoobies really have. Xander however continues to impress by telling Buffy to find her fighting buddy and not to go all gung ho. This is only further proof as to why he is shaping up so excellently this season.

Back to the land of torture, Warren is not only goading Willow about how he would love her to go dark again but he’s also quick to jab her eye with the exactor knife and also tells her that the stronger her magic becomes the harder it is for her to break free out of her bonds.

That might also explain why Willow isn’t talking to. Perhaps the nifty spell on those bonds are stopping her from chanting any kind of magic that would free her but the severe lack of a two way exchange between them kinda sucks to be honest.

We’ve had interesting exchanges between Willow and Amy in the last issue but not once does Willow get a chance to convey disgust that Warren is still breathing when Tara is stone cold. I hope no-one holds it against me when I say I want Willow to finish what she started on Warren, those two and a half years ago.

After getting a brief look of Willow’s mind and five bizarre looking women who want to grant the tortured witch access, the plans to actually save Willow before Warren succeeds in dicing her are in play. Well just Buffy telling Satsu to load up but I can tell you I knew the outcome before witnessing it.

Meanwhile bored from seeing Willow squirm, Amy has to answer to General Voll who isn’t thrilled with Amy disabling their cameras. Geez, Voll do you really think Amy isn’t going to find some way of ensuring once she’s lived up to her end of the deal that she isn’t gonna find a way of making sure you aren’t a threat to her? This guy is every bit as stupid as those Initiative suits.

Getting past some boring bickering between Satsu, Leah and Rowena, Buffy and Satsu are then set to get Willow back and when Buffy borrows some lip gloss of her intern, the cinnamon thing is revealed. Was it Satsu who kissed Buffy awake last issue? Who knows? Joss is good at throwing us off the scent but in comic book form anything is possible, right?

More interesting is the trip into Willow’s state of mind where her weird new pals are telling her that her refuge is only temporary and even go as far as to show her images of people burning in the flames and it doesn’t take a genius to get that this particular imagery is representing the very real pain she’s being subjected to.

On screen something like this would look absolutely amazing and while Willow doesn’t really say much to the ladies in her mind, the sheer surrealism of what we’re seeing is enough dialogue in of it’s self. We know that Willow is in deep shit and this only emphasises it.

Fortunately though she isn’t the only about to get shafted as the idiotic soldiers are about to learn that some traps really aren’t as effective as they might appear to be. Then again, demons and gods can be smart; suits just can’t on this series.

With the mini-witches finally getting the portal opened and some delightfully cheeky dialogue exchanged between Buffy and Xander, the soldiers’ plan to take aim on Buffy and Satsu with a laser cannon is nicely deflected with the Scoobies nifty use of a mirror. See, soldiers on this show/comic book really are stupid.

It also doesn’t end there as Buffy and Satsu get through and start beating the ever holy crap out of the attacking soldiers so much that to a degree it almost beggars belief but while Buffy may be winning this fight without even really trying, it’s almost nice that she doesn’t actually derive any pleasure from the damage her and Satsu are being kinda forced to inflict.

So Buffy grabs one of the Generals and makes a reasonable request – she’ll get his men fixed up if he tells her where Willow is being kept and in all fairness he doesn’t really have much option to disagree with Buffy’s benign request.

As Buffy and Satsu whoop another soldier out of the way, Xander figures out that they are two miles south of Sunnydale and also is quick to warn them that Amy is waiting for them as well. Suffice to say, Amy is there all right but it seems that Buffy is more than prepared for her.

Willow mentions to one of the weird looking ladies in her mind that her and Buffy are a part of each other. I thought it was a rather weird way of saying that her and Buffy’s friendship is on the same ground as the first five seasons of the series but in actual fact it means that Willow is seemingly able to suffuse some of her mojo into Buffy who doesn’t waste much time using this to her advantage against Amy.

Once again Amy makes the speedy move of underestimating her opponent and while she might be right about Buffy’s sudden magical abilities being a lightshow, the slayer is easily able to distract her by pulling an image of Catherine Madison long enough for Satsu to throw a bomb in Amy’s direction.

Naturally it doesn’t actually kill Amy because obviously enough she is vital to this whole lengthy series arc but it’s effective enough for the gang to get to Willow and Buffy to seemingly recognise Warren before he and Amy make their not so great escape. Crap and I was hoping someone would nuke Warren, guess I’ll have to wait for that.

Even slightly more crap is that whatever damage Warren inflicted on Willow is gone by the time Buffy is able to free her friend. Not that I wanted Willow to be horrifically scarred but it does kind of kill the impact of her whole capture and makes a large chuck of this issue feel rather pointless as well.

Also rather pointless is Whedon’s decision to kill off Ethan Rayne when Buffy finds him dead in one of the cells thanks to General Voll. Without a reaction from Giles and with only the dream space hints of last week, Ethan’s demise should’ve been something far more stronger than this. Maybe it will help advance the arc but it feels so bloody anticlimactic.

Fortunately there’s an explanation for Voll’s vitriol Buffy and her band of slayers and despite Buffy’s annoying assumptions that Voll is another in a long line of dudes threatened by strong women, his reasons for wanting Buffy defeated is his fears that her and the slayers will become further corrupted but the inner demon and will want to reshape mankind.

You kind of have to wonder where Voll is generating this assumption from. Sure there are slayers will become corrupted and tread the wrong path and unlike Faith won’t be redeemed but Voll doesn’t exactly seem to be coming with some form of a compromise in the matter. It’s nice that there’s something more to go on with the Twilight thing but Buffy’s forlorn response doesn’t bode very well.

Also in “The Long Way Home Part 4”

Cover for this issue was Giant Dawn with Buffy in the palm of her hands. So far each cover star has played a big part in the issue but Dawn didn’t have a lot to do here.

Warren (to Willow): “I remember thinking and it comes up again in this situation, I just have to wonder – are you bored now?”

This issue opened up with a brief flashback to “Villains”. Is it me or is the lack of a mention of Tara from Willow a bit surprising?

Xander (re Dawn’s comment): “Oh I bet you loved hearing that.”
Buffy: “How much longer.”

Warren (to Willow): “All your power is siphoned into those bonds. The stronger you get. Try it, go dark. I wish you would. I think you might.”

The women in Willow’s mind were a mummy, blue smoke, painting, wolf and one of paper and equations. Abstract representations of Willow’s power/lives/lovers etc?

Amy (to General Voll): “But the witch belongs to my boyfriend. They have a history. She’s kind of a history major.”

I have to ask but when Amy refers to Warren as her boyfriend, is she actually screwing him because it can’t be pleasant if she is?

Buffy: “Yes sir, Mister Watcher sir.”
Xander: “I’ll watcher your butt.”
Buffy: “Your grammar is not so much.”
Xander: “Bring me back a witch.”

Buffy: “Where are we?”
Xander: “About two miles south of Sunnydale.”
Buffy: “Sunnydale, well I’m the one who wanted to go home.”

This is the second time in the series the Scythe has been used in battle. It seems that Buffy is keeping ownership on that thing.

Amy: “Time to go, Sweetie.”
Warren: “This isn’t over slayer.”
Amy: “I just do not get tired of saying that.”

General Voll: “We’re not waiting for that to happen, we will wipe you out. Not just monsters anymore. It’s you against the world. You’re at war with the human race.”
Buffy: “Oh. Kay.”

This issue ended with a BTVS logo at the end. Stack this entire arc together and you would have a complete episode.

What started off as a rather intriguing arc is marred by a final instalment that gives us only some answers but leaves you mostly unsatisfied. “The Long Way Home Part 4” has some interesting moments but there aren’t as many standout scenes or characters moments that the first three issues had and some of the dialogue is a bit clunky in comparison. It also stinks that we have to wait until August for standalone issue “The Chain”.

Rating: 6 out of 10.