Buffy Season 8, Issue #15

      14 Comments on Buffy Season 8, Issue #15

“It’s a very distinguished list. It has people like … um … Judi Dench and Eleanor Roosevelt on it.” – Buffy to Willow

“I like blue jeans and irony.” – Dawn (sort of … you’ll see)

With this issue, Drew Goddard’s four-part story, “Wolves at the Gate,” draws to a close. And I have to say … this was easily my favorite plot arc of the season so far. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed Joss Whedon’s introductory four-parter (“The Long Way Home”), but by then, I hadn’t yet renewed my emotional attachment to these characters. And while Brian K. Vaughn’s three-part Faith story (“No Future for You”) kicked ASS, it was literally detached from the rest of the Buffy universe.

But THIS plot arc? Which starts with Buffy discovering a new side of herself, and ends with a Dracula that you actually find yourself rooting for? Absolute genius. Especially this issue, which is about as tight as a story gets, and has the frenetically satisfying pathos of a season finale.

The story picks up where it left off in the last issue, with Renee having just been impaled. Then Goddard and artist Georges Jeanty hit us with a touching scene that probably could not have been pulled off on TV without seeming overdone — the fade into death from Renee’s perspective, as we listen to the frantic thoughts inside her head. Then she dies, and we see Xander bent over her broken body, vulnerable, his back to the fighting all around him, tears flowing out of his single eye, and Buffy determined to protect him. But it’s Dracula who shines here, setting in motion the plan that will save the day/world. And in the moment that he vamps out, and says of Xander, “He’s not alone,” I have to admit, I kind of got chills. Because for whatever reason, evil or no, he considers Xander a close friend, and he will rip apart a room full of vampires if that’s what it takes to keep his friend safe from harm.

And that was just the first three pages!

Outside, in mid-air, Willow fights the vamp witch Kumiko, and we learn that there is likely something sinister about the intentions of Willow’s former witchcraft teacher, Saga Vasuki — not sure what yet. Anyway, Buffy kills Kumiko, and she and Willow land safely on the ground. On the ground, Giant Dawn lends a hand by squashing vampires with her foot like bugs, but learns that the Japanese vamps are prepared for her, when she is punched in the nose by (wait for it) a MECHA DAWN. Holy crap, I can’t even tell you how much I wanted to laugh out loud when I read those pages … but my wife was asleep in the next room at the time, so I had to restrain myself. “My name is Dawn … I am a teenage girl … I like blue jeans and irony … I cry a lot … I often let boys take advantage of my weak emotional states.” Pure comedy gold, especially with Andrew (“Hi, have you met me?”) coaching Dawn from the sidelines.

After a series of twists and turns, Dracula and Willow manage to turn the tables on the bad guys, using his demon sword (cousin to the Scythe) to cast a spell on the giant red lens, sapping all the Japanese vamps of their special transmogrifying powers, thereby making them much easier to kill. Which the slayers proceed to do, with a literal vengeance. “Cut them down as they flee,” Buffy orders. “Kill every single one of them.” But once again, it’s Dracula who steals this scene, with a chilling speech that ends, “The vampire’s the least of your concerns. It’s the old man you need to worry about.” He lops off the hands of the vamp who killed Renee, then hands Xander the sword to deliver the killing blow, bringing the battle to an end.

Cut to the epilogue. Dracula takes his leave of Xander, but not before Goddard squeezes a little more comedy out of their peculiar relationship. Xander then scatters Renee’s ashes, and again, I wonder what toll this loss will take on him. Willow meditates, as her “goddess” Saga Vasuki creepily watches on. Satsu asks to head up the Tokyo field office, and Buffy agrees, tying off that particular loose end … and then they have some more lesbian sex. It’s an emotionally satisfying exchange (the conversation, not the sex), and I’m glad that Goddard chose to give that story line some closure before his arc was over. Then, as if to punctuate the notion that Dracula was the star of this piece all along, Goddard gives old Vlad the final words of dialogue, which seem oddly prophetic when superimposed over panels that depict Buffy, Willow, and Xander each detoxing separately from the latest apocalypse:

“We have a cold journey ahead of us … find what warmth you can for now … and I’ll stand watch alone.”

Next issue begins Joss’s four-part “Time of Your Life” plot arc, co-starring Fray, the Future Slayer! (Once again, if you haven’t already read the Fray trade paperback, what are you waiting for?) And after that, in Issue #20, we get another cool treat, when guest writer Jeph Loeb revisits the Scoobies’ high school years with a story that involves the “Buffy Animated Series” that never was. After two four-part arcs, it should be a nice diversion.

Click for a preview of the Issue #20 cover

14 thoughts on “Buffy Season 8, Issue #15

  1. Michael

    I had no such spousal limitations, but I was cackling like a crazy man while eating lunch in public. This one was really funny. And, yes, poignant. I want Drac to have MY back!

    So good. I knew you would highlight “I like blue jeans and irony” which was easily MECHA Dawn’s best line.

    I’m not even sure what “MECHA” is all about, but it was awesome.

    I know I keep saying it, but your recaps of these comics are very entertaining in their own right.

    TWO Angels this month!

    Oh, and I bought and read “Fray.” Can’t wait to see how she gets integrated into this.

  2. GeekBoy

    You don’t know what “MECHA” is about???

    Poor man, you’ve missed half the brilliance of the joke!

    Learn about the Japanese sci-fi glory that is Mechagodzilla …


    Then watch and enjoy …


    Sadly, I am the Andrew in this scenario!

    BTW, since I got a bit behind, I’m basically waiting for the next issue of Angel to come out (this week) before recapping that title. I’m just going to do one big recap for the whole three-part “First Night” arc. Then I’ll get back to business as usual with the next issue after that. And then, of course, it’ll be time to recap “Spike: First Night” as well …

  3. GeekBoy

    Yeah, I got the impression that Drac lost his morphing powers too. Although it doesn’t seem to be keeping him down.

  4. Michael

    No, I kind of knew about MECHA Godzilla. It was on the periphery of my awareness, but I didn’t know if there was more to it.

    Well, there’s something you don’t see every day.

    But you’re still Andrew.

    I just picked up the Buffy Omnibus (Volume 1). Spike and Dru at the World’s Fair! It’s fun, but the tone and dialog don’t seem quite right. Does it get better?

  5. GeekBoy

    To be honest, I’ve never read any of the comics in the Omnibus. In fact, I’ve hardly read any of the Buffy/Angel comics that aren’t considered “canon”. My understanding of the Omnibus is that it includes stories that, while neither canonical nor written/plotted by Whedon himself, were loosely “approved” by his office. And that the story “The Origin” was presumably written from Joss’s original script for the movie, which ended up having only a vague resemblance to the movie itself, which was taken out of his hands by the studio at some point, because they felt Joss was being difficult.

    But the key thing to keep in mind is that it was comic book guys who wrote most if not all of the stories in the Omnibus, and not either Joss or the TV show writers. So I’m not surprised to hear that the tone and dialogue seem a bit off. One of the reasons I was so excited to hear that Joss would be helming a “Season 8” comic is that I knew we’d get a book that was true to the feel of the series itself. And sure enough, he’s pulled that off, both with Buffy and Angel.

    Having said all that, I’ve always been curious to read some of those stories, in particular for the origin story, and to see how somebody imagined what happened between the movie and the TV series. I’ve just never gotten around to it.

    What would be even better, of course, is if Joss himself would write/plot a version of that same time period. Call it “Buffy: Season Zero” maybe. Who knows — if the title continues to do well, maybe he will!

  6. Michael

    Or a movie, of course! The cast is still so young. Can’t we have a movie before it’s too late?

    Yeah, prolly not.

    I’d take a Fray movie.

  7. GeekBoy

    I think a lot hinges on how well the new Dollhouse series does next year. If it catches on with the mainstream, then that probably opens up doors for revisiting some of these other franchises on the big/small screen. Firefly/Serenity definitely established a strong selling base … but not quite enough to make it either a TV or box-office smash for the studios. But if Dollhouse can capture the breadth of audience that Lost and Battlestar have captured, then it might re-validate Whedon to Hollywood, might get people excited about his past shows again … and then anything could happen. Including a Fray movie … or even better — a TV show.

    To be honest, as much as I’d love to see the Buffy/Angel characters on a big or small screen, at this point, I think it’s too late for them to carry a project. They’ve all aged just enough, physically and mentally, and I don’t know if their heads would be in it any more. It could end up being more disappointing than awesome, you know? I’d rather see them all make cool cameo appearances in a new project that took place in the same universe/mythology — the way it was cool to get Buffy character cameos in the Angel TV show after Buffy was canceled. And a Fray series — or some other new Buffy-verse series — would let that happen.

  8. Jill a.k.a. Nerdy Bird

    “I often let boys take advantage of my weak emotional states.” was probably my favorite but the jeans and irony was close.

    Everything with Xander and Dracula was pure drama gold.

    I actually went and picked up the Fray trade after the last time you mentioned it. It was really cool so I’m excited to see how they work this out in the current run. I can imagine there will be a lot of advice about slaying and hair care.

    I just picked up “Tales of the Vampires” the other day and I’m waiting on “Tales of the Slayer” to be delivered to my comic shop. I haven’t read the omnibus stuff either because it wasn’t written by Joss but those two partly are. Have you ever read them?

  9. GeekBoy

    “Tales of the Slayer” and “Tales of the Vampire” were both great.

    Michael, I think I recommended those to you last year, but I’m not sure if you ever picked them up. It’s basically a bunch of short comics stories about slayers and vampires throughout time — some of whom we know and some we don’t — written by Joss and some of the other writers from Buffy/Angel, with various artists.

    In fact, I need to go dig those up and read them again …

  10. GeekBoy

    No, I don’t think so. The Omnibus is all stories with Buffy in them. But the “Slayers” book has no Buffy in it at all, and “Vampires” only has an appearance by her in one story — a story written by Drew Goddard, centered around Dracula & Xander, which was basically the set-up for this most recent plot arc.

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