Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Buffy Season 9 No. 2

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 No. 2
Freefall, Part 2

I have to say, I'm liking this.  I still think that Angel & Faith's first two issues have been stronger than Buffy's, but there were always times on the series when Angel pulled me stronger than Buffy, and vice versa, so this isn't necessarily a knock at Buffy.  And it is just really nice to be able to sit down with these characters again.  I noticed that today after I got my comic: just how enjoyable it felt to sit back to read this issue.  That's a feeling I lost during Season 8.  When every new issue was a stressful experience because I was constantly concerned I would be disappointed again.  Not here though.  Season 9, while not perfect, has still felt like Buffy and has made me as excited as I used to be.  Which is awesome.

Now, without further ado, I will actually talk about the issue.

We open on our two cops in an alley filled with dead people.  Not a lot of time spent on them here, just a few panels that serve to remind us of this story.  Then we jump back into the action that we left on last issue, with the student loans demon.  There is a very strange panel here, with Spike laughing except he doesn't look like he's laughing at all.  It's very strange.

Buffy pays as much as she can, which isn't even enough to cover the first payment, and we learn what happened to all the money she stole last season: she returned it when Riley negotiated amnesty.  So that's nice.  I'm glad that's not hanging over us as much any more.  It's still a tough question of morality that I'm not sure ever got dealt with satisfactorily, but the plot device itself would just be dead wait now.  Besides, the conflict about the seed is a much more interesting way of handling the question of "for the greater good," so I'm happy about saying goodbye to Buffy Summers, International Jewel Thief.

Speaking of which, I'm really not that happy with Willow right now.  I understand that she's in pain and that she has lost a part of herself and that she is genuinely concerned for the world here, but is still just seems like she just wants to make Buffy feel bad.  Which, um, okay?  That's being a good friend, Willow.  What really annoys me is that she basically tells Buffy that she is being selfish and that she's only thinking about how destroying the seed affected herself.  Um... what?  I'm sorry, but this just doesn't seem fair to me at all.  Buffy destroyed the seed to SAVE everyone.  Not so much with the selfish.

I'll concede that Willow may very well be right about a world without magic being empty and Buffy needing to deal with fallout.  But that doesn't really excuse the fact that she's not really being a very good friend here. She isn't telling Buffy anything she needs to be doing, just that she's not doing it.  She isn't trying to make things better, she's just trying to make Buffy feel worse.  So, yeah.  Not so much with the Willow love right now.

Willow leaves and Spike proceeds to warn Buffy about the someone that's out to get her.  Gotta say, I think that at this point this is a really poor way to build suspense.  How many times has Buffy heard about some mysterious thing that's coming at this point?  I'll worry once we actually know what is after Buffy.

Speaking of a devil, the demon that escaped last issue goes to Buffy's room, calling her out as the destroyer of magic and discovering that she is a vampire slayer.  It's still not clear who's side this guy is on, and they are still trying to keep us guessing about his nature.  He doesn't kill Buffy's roommate when he walks in, instead choosing to bail out of the window.  I am a little intrigued by this guy, and looking forward to seeing more of him.

We cut to our two detectives in the morgue with all the bodies.  Mulder - I mean Detective Dowling - comes up with the theory that the bodies are vampires.  Interesting idea, but we will require an explanation for why they aren't dusting.

Buffy saves a dude from a vamp right then, as she thinks about how she needs to convince Willow that she did what she had to.  The guy offers to help, but she tells him to get lost.  She stakes the vamp, only to be held at gunpoint by a cop.  Honestly, thinking about it, I'm kind of surprised this situation never happened once during the show.  It's an interesting beat.  "Turn around and drop the... stake?"

Buffy is then interrogated by the two cops, who know she is a slayer, but don't seem to know how important she has been in recent events.  I think Buffy's thoughts nicely sum up what is interesting about this bit:  "What does the real world have against me?  And why doesn't it want me to live in it."  I think this might actually be a key theme of this season.  How difficult it can be to live in the "real world."

It's so strange to see these detectives trying to defend the lives of these vampires, their "victims."  The girl cop (do we know her name?) accuses Buffy of killing the vampire from earlier to which Buffy corrects that the term is slayed.  (I think the distinction between 'kill' and 'slay' has always been really important to Buffy.  She doesn't want to be a killer.  I'm reminded of Riley in her dream in Restless, calling her killer.)  It's so weird that this detective woman talks to Buffy this way about SLAYING A VAMPIRE.  I mean come on.  The fact that the public is so ill-informed about vampires is so strange to me.  To the point where they don't even know that they go poof when they die.

Anyway, Detective Dowling seems to believe Buffy, but the woman is much less trusting and insists on keeping her.  Of course, Buffy escapes, which actually probably wasn't the smartest move considering they knew exactly who she was and where she lived and everything.  But I can sympathize.  She's not really used to playing "in the real world."

She decides to go to Dawn and Xander, where she finds that her face is already on TV and she's wanted and dangerous.  She decides that if she is going to clear her name she needs to find the person who is actually responsible for the bodies.  Which is a neat idea, but... it doesn't just make a whole lot of sense.  She still just escaped from the police and is a fugitive.  Bringing in the actual guilty person won't make that other stuff go away, will it?

She tries to stay with Dawn and Xander but they turn her down.  It seems they are in the middle of some kind of domestic squabble we are not privy to.  I have to say that I'm kind of disappointed in them right now.  Buffy is clearly not in a great place right now, can't they put aside their argument for long enough to help her out?  I mean, she's Buffy's sister and Xander's long-standing close friend.  Really guys?  You're going to just let her crawl back out that window?  Buffy ends up being kind of cranky, and I'm totally on her side on this one.  Her friends are all being pretty rotten to her right now.  Willow just wants to make her feel guilty about something she didn't have a choice in, and now Xander and Dawn are too busy living their lives to give her a place to sleep when she has nowhere to go.

It seems the only person who is totally on her side is Spike.  We get a really nice scene between the two of them on some rooftop.  Now, I want to be clear here that I am not an obsessive Spike fan.  I like the guy, and I think he is a great character that has a slight tendency to become more prevalent than he needs to be.  I like the interactions he and Buffy have and I think it's nice that they get to have another one here.  I like that Buffy is clearly appreciative of Spike for being there for her.  I just wish my man Xander would get his act together and be a good friend too.

Buffy rescues the same guy from earlier and saves him from a vamp once again.  He insists that he can help and that he's a slayer too.  (Sorry pal, they're all women.)

She chases another vampire down an alley, where she is cornered by at least a dozen more.  I really liked this panel, with all the vampires as silhouettes and their eyes and teeth visible.  I thought it was neat.

Suddenly, the dude saves Buffy from the vamp by turning him back into a human.  And... also killing him.  Hmm.  Interesting.  While it's kind of neat, it seems less efficient than the normal way.  I mean... this way you have a bunch of bodies on your hands where before you just had nice sneeze-inducing dust.

The issue ends on Buffy saying she would be okay if this guy made it so she didn't have to slay anymore.  Poor girl.  She's really having a rough time adjusting into this "real world."  She feels like her chosen-one-itude is the thing that is preventing her from being able to have a normal life, and even sees a mysterious stranger with strange powers as a potential way out.  Interested to see how this plays out in the next issues.

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