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.