Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x02: "The Long Way Home Part 2"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Dawn: “What do you know? You don’t have a sister.”
Xander: “Have you seen this place? I’ve got all my sisters ‘n’ me!”

After a disappointing no-show in the first issue, the returns of Giles and Willow are two of the many things that this second instalment in “The Long Way Home” four parter gets so right. Mind you don’t expect a lot from either character!

With Giles it’s a rather brief appearance at the beginning where he muses about how he used to be a watcher and how watchers in general tended to outnumber slayers but how thanks to “Chosen” that statistic has been more than reversed. This musing thing was done in the first issue but while Giles’ doesn’t add anything we don’t know already, it’s still pretty good to have him back no less.

Staring out of his balcony, Giles surveys the plethora of new slayers training and compliments them before telling them that while some of them are developing skills that could even surpass Buffy, it’s generally not enough. At this point, Giles’ lecture is in danger of falling into the same format of Buffy’s ones from Season Seven.

So it’s then a pretty good thing when we cut to Buffy, who quips about slayers fighting alone is formidable before getting her main girls Leah, Rowena and Satsu to try and trounce her. Naturally the girls fail but Buffy is quick to compliment them on their moves and even Satsu’s hair.

It’s nice to see Buffy building a little bit of a rapport with the girls instead of being a strict general. Pissing off slayers last time got her kicked out of her house. I’m pretty sure Buffy doesn’t want to be kicked out of that lovely castle she’s acquired in Scotland, especially given that she’s got an upcoming war on her hands.

If Giles’ lecture was risky and Buffy’s was fun, then the one Andrew gives to his bunch of slayers on a campfire trip in Italy is just pointless. Unlike Giles and Willow, Andrew’s return for me wasn’t particularly warranted so his little tirade in regards to what he felt about Return Of The Jedi is just tiresome.

One of the reasons why I can’t stand Andrew as a character is because he walks around like a Geek Encyclopaedia and uses his pop culture savvy in a way that is generally unhelpful. Then again, I’m probably one of a few people who feel Andrew was neither use nor ornament in Season Seven or in this issue at all.

Andrew’s rant about Lando Calrissian’s outfit is apparently a more relevant discussion topic than giving his batch of slayers some weapons knowledge. Then again, his anti-gun stance soon has him getting onto some dos and don’ts in regards to head butts, which makes me hope some of these slayers head butts him for the hell of it. Suffice to say my Andrew hatred won’t be dying down just yet.

However when there’s something I hate in this comic book, it’s usually followed up by something I love and Giant Dawn using an entire lake to bath herself while talking to Xander about Buffy not wanting her there is a good scene.

Okay whinging Dawn is hardly compelling but it’s better than listening to Andrew babble on about Star Wars and once again, she has a point. Buffy may be building a good rapport with her slayers but she is generally still ignoring her but in fairness the fact that the gang can’t be bothered to contact Willow and change Dawn back or find Kenny and see if he’s able to reverse the process is annoying me.

Xander is once again stuck in the role of mediator and tries to excuse Buffy’s lack of contact and while I’m sure Buffy does wish Dawn was getting an education rather than being a giant, it still wouldn’t kill her to spend some time with Dawn. One of the amusing things about Dawn’s situation is her splashing Xander after he makes an inappropriate quip. On screen this could’ve really worked too.

Onto the more serious elements in this issue at Drextal Corp Recycling Technologies or the even lamer version of The Initiative, which personally I prefer to address it as, we have the vile General Voll telling a suit that he generally wants Buffy out of the picture.

Besides being responsible for the destruction of Sunnydale and the fact he views Buffy and her slayers as terrorists, I can’t help but wonder what other reasons he might have for eliminating her. He’s hardly Mr Squeaky Clean himself as he pretty much admitted that he has no aversion to blowing things up himself either.

Then there’s the fact that he has half sun down logo which we see when he’s on his own. It was the same symbol the victims at that derelict church had in Issue 1 and there has to be something significant to it. In all fairness it’s too much of a coincide to not bear any significance.

So the questions regarding this particular reveal are – Is Voll a part of some doomsday cult? Is he even more destructive than he cites Buffy and her girls to be? The answers to this aren’t gonna come any quicker sadly. Which sucks given when comic books are a monthly basis.

Getting back to the thorny issue of Dawn being a giant, both Buffy and Xander go back to discussing and more or less what they say here is a rethread of what they’ve said before, well to an extent.

Essentially Xander throws the notion to Buffy that while Dawn didn’t deliberately make her super big, subconsciously Dawn wanted her attention so bad and by having something so extreme happen to her, perhaps she would finally get it.

Of course Buffy has so far treated this as an imposition, neither her nor anyone else has actually tried to come up with a solution or contact Willow about it and once again, Buffy also tries to downplay Dawn’s abandonment issues as well, even though Xander is quick to point out that Dawn has lost a lot of people she’s deeply cared about in recent years, including Buffy herself at two different occasions.

Another reason why Buffy then isn’t so keen to discuss Dawn is down to the fact that she really wants Xander to come to bed with her. The first actual shock of the entire book is the possibility of a Buffy/Xander hook up and seeing as the two of them kiss with Buffy knocking Xander’s head off and then being set alight by a demon gave things away about it being a dream sequence.

Buffy and Xander as a couple is a strange thing though. This issue hints the possibility but doesn’t actually say that something like that will happen. Buffy hasn’t gotten laid in a while and for over a year, Xander has been the main man in her life and his new proactive watcher style role is quite alluring.

If history didn’t dictate otherwise, I’d almost jump at the chance of Buffy and Xander together. Anything would be better than the horrifically toxic relationship she had with Spike in Season Six but on the series Buffy never displayed any sexual attraction towards Xander and his crush on Buffy also seemed to wane as well.

Also I don’t even get the vibe that Xander is really into Buffy now. Although he hasn’t exactly openly grieved for Anya or met anyone else, he still doesn’t seem to be anything in Buffy’s life right now other than good friend and trainer to the new slayers.

You’d also have to wonder how Renee would react if Xander did go for Buffy too. Her attraction to Xander is a lot more forthcoming in this issue as one of her slayer mates is quick to notice the sudden interests Renee has taken upon herself as well as the fact that Renee was quick to volunteer them for night watch.

As for Buffy being burned to a crisp by a demon, that was all a part of dream, one she seems to be also locked in a Sleeping Beauty. In reality Amy has put the whammy on her and has an unconscious Buffy tied to the bed while deciding to do Voll a favour and finish her off.

The thing with Amy is while she may have gotten craftier in her spells and was able to sneak into Buffy’s bedroom, it didn’t take long for Xander and a few girls to note their displeasure at seeing her as well as shooting the bitch in the arm with an arrow.

While it’s true to form for Xander to slag off Amy’s lame sacrificial knife which managed to become split in four, its Amy who still has the last laugh. After all she was still able to get into Buffy’s room and put her under that spell so while her attempts to kill her are a failure she succeeds in pointing out to Xander only a kiss will wake Buffy while the other slayers are busy battling the army of the undead Amy also brought along for amusement purpose.

Just like Sleeping Beauty, the kiss has to be from someone who is in love with Buffy and Amy’s baiting about Xander perhaps giving it a whirl might back up the theory that perhaps Joss Whedon just might pair Buffy and Xander up as well. I’m still not sure about this but Buffy is pretty useless to the season if she’s asleep so if Xander’s kiss is the very thing that wakes her up, then fine by me in the respect.

In the land of nod when Buffy isn’t dreaming about kissing Xander and being roasted alive and constantly reminded that she is the dark, there’s a mysterious older man who calls her “my love” and tells her that there’s a lot she needs to see. I think the chances of us finding out who this guy is are a bit higher than the grotesque thing Amy is screwing around with.

Speaking of Amy, while she might be feeling all smug about Buffy being in dream world and her zombies doing some slayer damage, that little smile on her face is wiped out when Willow hover over her window and basically challenges. It’s a play on Giles’ reintroduction in “Two To Go” but it ends this issue nicely and a fight between Willow and Amy via magic should be very fun to watch.

Also in “The Long Way Home Part 2”

Cover for Issue 2 has Eye Patch Xander all stealthy in his leather jacket alongside Buffy. I love how physically Jo Chen’s artwork resembles Sarah Michelle Gellar and Nicholas Brendon.

Giles: “There were hundreds of watchers and one slayer. Scales have tipped of late.”

Last Issue Buffy had a Serenity Logo, this week her T-shirt is Hong Kong Phooey. Satsu also had a “Rude Girl” badge. Those style of badges are popular among students.

Xander: “That’s overstating it, don’t you think?”
Dawn: “I’m a giant, everything I state is over.”

General Voll (to a suit): “There’s no problem so big or complicated that it can’t be blown up. That’s not a saying we share with the public but …”

Where exactly is Drextal Corp based? From last issue, I would guess somewhere near Sunnydale.

Buffy: “No, no I can’t go outside, I’m afraid of the dark.”
Xander: “Buffy, you are the dark.”
Buffy: “That’s what I meant.”

Buffy has got some interesting looking weapons in her room. One of them almost resembles Faith’s knife from Season Three.

Amy (to an unconscious Buffy): “I couldn’t bear it if this was painless.”
Xander: “Amy, long time, no desire whatsoever to see.”

Xander: “This isn’t open wand night in Sunnydale sweetcheeks. You’re dealing with pros.”
Amy: “Any of you pros notice she’s still asleep?”

If Buffy’s room is so mystically protected, then shouldn’t Amy little Sleeping Beauty plan never have come to fruition? Or does the protection spell not view involuntary slumber as harm?

Renee: “Please there’s no love.”
Slayer: “No right of course. The sudden interest in comic books, James Bond movies and drywalling has absolutely nothing to do with Mr Harris.”

Xander: “But not friend love.”
Amy: “Right. Someone who wants to kiss her, like they’re passionate about her.”
Xander: “And not a sister.”
Amy: “Well a twisted sister.”

Anyone notice the dress Willow is wearing is very much the same one Tara wore in “Once More With Feeling”?

Xander: “Who’s breaching?”
Slayer: “Living dead sir.”
Xander: “Man, Amy you’re doing all the classics tonight.”

Willow (to Amy): “As a friend of mine once said, I’d like to test that theory.”

Chronology: About a day or two after “The Long Way Home Part 1”.

Better executed than the opening issue, “The Long Way Home Part 2” merits from the returns of Giles and Willow, the Buffy/Xander/Dawn scenes, adding more mystery with the dislikeable General Voll and making sure Amy is her very nasty self. It also helps that the quips are kept a coming and the action wasn’t far behind either.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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