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Review - Buffy the Vampire Slayer S9 #12
Illyria
ladydorotea
I might be one of the few people who actually was quite happy with betentacled parts
of issue 12, because - Ktulhu (that's russian for Chtulhu btw) references never get old, and because I am so much into hardware myself that I can see where the writer was coming from.

Gosh , once you start de-tangling your connection cables, you can easily get to a point when you think they must be nasty demonic tentacles out there to get you. So, yeah, imagining that the whole bunch of cables that runs in and out of a server room, and connects the aforementioned servers to God-knows-what on the other side, are the appendages of one Teuth demon, is quite plausible.

Notable moments:

Buffy can actually say Angel's name aloud - and not faint or run out of the room crying after that. We saw her smiling two issues before at the first mention of him by Andrew, in this issue she is brave enough to say 'Angel' in a positive context, as in : was ready to die to keep Wolfram and Hart out of this realm. Little enough, true, but still the taboo is broken. And there was a connection to Spike too - likely she knows the whole story of how he got his Chuck-full-O'Bugs ship, as the senior partners were mentioned hopping dimensions. There is a chance yet of the verse's main storylines and characters coming together eventually. Buffy not getting to mention Angel's name in whatever context for 11 issues of the season was seriously grating on my nerves. It took them 'only' 5 issues to get her to mention missing Giles. It took another 6 or 7 to get to the point where Buffy actually says something like 'our little Twilight showdown' - interestingly, in the same context as W&H.

Now, I know I was complaining about A&f getting overboard with emotional moments, but here I wish that Buffy book was a bit more open with characters emotional context. The way Chambliss writes Buffy post Robot storyline, she is so emotionally clammed up that it becomes hard to stay focused on her and her story - no wonder every second reviewer of this arc felt that it is dull. Buffy as a character have never been portrayed quite so emotionally divorced from her associates and comrades-at-arms. And here I fear that Buffy's exchanges with every other character that she is interacting with are distant and insincere. The closest she ever comes to opening up are in two little dialogs one with Kennedy - that comes up when they are discussing the consequences of shutting down TinCan , and another one with Theo Daniels - the unfortunate founder of the (chicken?) Soup ( or rather - Internet ) for your Soul website. Btw - I suspect that the name is an ironic reference to the series of famous books - that are supposed to be something of an equivalent of Moral Dilemmas and Solutions for Dummies. Why am I not surprised that Wolfram and Hart would be pushing a demonic social network on the unsuspecting populace under the guise of something soul-nourishing ? (Too bad Campbell does not make the Kitten Soup flavor - might have been popular with some of the TinCan more refined clientele. )

In any case - going back to the two notable conversations that Buffy has in this issue. First one is with Kennedy.

Buffy-Kennedy exchange a few notable lines that bring up Willow and her loss of magic - right at the same time when the readers of A&F sister-book learned that Willow is taking a serious step in the direction of restoring magic to the world - and does it in the company of someone whose name Buffy was not able to speak aloud until this issue. In itself Kennedy-Willow broken relationship being brought up only takes us so far. But when Buffy mentions something like 'Willow getting magic back isn't going to undo what happened between you two, and you told me the breakup was a good thing' followed by Kennedy's 'does not mean I don't care about her', it makes one wonder if some hinted at double entendre was intentional.

I do admit though, that Buffy's continuous almost zealous insistence on being wary and suspicious of anything demonic ( not normal) is being pushed through as an intentional message. Buffy is a Slayer and her instincts are all awake. She extremely defensive of her current situation, and of her herself being 'in the right' in her role of protector of humanity against demons - maybe a little too defensive and almost paranoid. I am not surprised - remembering how the last season she was playing Che Gehvara of the verse - a revolutionary all starry eyed and set upon 'changing the world', who did not flinch at robbing banks for needed funds to support the 'case', and butting heads with human military. It turned out not so stellar in the end - as her personal revolution went bad , disturbing the equilibrium and basically opening a possibility for Twilight prophecy to come through. Now she is stubborn enough to insist they were saving the world - when Kennedy suggest they were doing something else ( see issue 11 for that).

The second notable conversation of this issue happens between Buffy and Theo Daniels.
Buffy basically tells Theo that destroying his life's work - the same way she destroyed the Slayer line by breaking the Seed - after activating all eligible girls in the world and making them feel 'connected' in that very special way that only Slayers can - is still the only possible solution to his dilemma *if* it is done for the right reasons. Thus she insists that her reason for destroying the Seed was not fixing the mistake she made ( which she would deem being 'selfish' reason) but to keep evil out of this world. In itself this is a very bold statement , but I don't think it denies having made mistakes in the first place - and there were plenty of these made by many last season. And Buffy ( and Angel) were not the only ones who made terrible mistakes. I kind of hope this little conversation is a pointer in the right direction and the writers are thinking of ending the remorse-self-hatred-more-bad-decisions party that plagues every character in the verse this season.

Final somewhat notable dynamics in this issue is between Buffy and Koh the Nitobe demon. I am not much surprised at his turncoat twist this issue. The way Buffy treated him was at best suspicion , mixed with practicality ( he owes me some - so he can be useful), so it turned out she misread his honor code - as he values vengeance higher than obligation. The problem is, Koh was not fleshed out much, so his 'betrayal' did not make much of emotional impact ( and maybe it never was intended to make it). But since the social network genius Theo is not much of an instant charmer either - it is hard to care much if he is going to survive his ordeal with W&H. I just think it would be a waste to introduce W&H and their servers of doom in this arc - only to destroy their 'foothold' in this dimension for good. So I somewhat controversially wish for the servers to have a mirror site.

I cannot say much about the art in this issue - I think Jeanty have managed a few good panels to grant him absolution of Theo looking like glorified Andrew , and Buffy sometimes looking like a complete stranger. I liked the reddish vs grayscale coloring of the last few pages a lot though. And the Teuth demon looking like the giant squid from Pirates of the Caribbean against the dark green seawater background. By the way - next issue cover has Buffy and Koh fighting some vampires side by side - I wonder if that cover now can be considered a decoy ?

Hi, ladydorotea :) I say it here too (two is better than one) :P

ladydorotea wrote:
"Buffy can actually say Angel's name aloud - and not faint or run out of the room crying after that. We saw her smiling two issues before at the first mention of him by Andrew, in this issue she is brave enough to say 'Angel' in a positive context, as in : was ready to die to keep Wolfram and Hart out of this realm. Little enough, true, but still the taboo is broken".


Of course I liked the mention of Angel, but Spike's name beside it, was really excessive. Someone should tell at "Buffy" (read Andrew Chambliss) that to associate these two names, in that context, it is an insult to five years of the mission of Angel and also to AI team's, which has worked with Angel to fight the evil of W&H . Some of them, not merely were prepared to die, but someone is really dead. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. It would have been fairer to include his name instead of Spike or a mention to entire team. "You sure this is really Wolfram and Hart? Demon law firm Angel and his team, were prepared to die to keep out of this realm Wolfram and Hart?"

Spike in this context has to do very little. It's been there for a limited period and for most of the time it has done nothing but annoy all, deriding their work and was annoying beyond all limits, only to then join the team Angel, because he did not know where to go (He not go back to Buffy, not to detract from his hero great exit).

I'm tired of seeing great heroic deeds attributed to Spike, that belong him only marginally. If Angel was not wearing the amulet to Sunnydale, Spike what he would do in front "The First"? he would recite one of her beautiful poetry?

Angel gave everything he had to fight against W&H. He renounced the Shanshu, Shanshu that, among other things, Spike wanted for himself, just for the sake of hurting Angel.

Angel fought already against W & H, when Spike still played at being the archaeologist, digging beneath Sunnydale to search the gem of Amara. Angel spat blood and tears to do the right thing, Spike has agreed to join them, just for the sake of a funny apocalyptic brawl.. someone should tell the real story to Buffy. She knows exactly what he did Angel, in all the years that he has been away from her?

I'm sorry for my ranting
..end rant :)

Edited at 2012-08-11 02:46 am (UTC)

In Spike's defense (not words I'm used to saying), Buffy has spent much more time around him lately than she has with Angel. They've probably talked about the final battle a few times, and he's been coloring it with his own perspective, which is natural. I think it's likely that she subconsciously associates W&H with Spike, just because so much of what she's heard about it has come from his lips.

.. this is a very sad thing, really :(

I can't argue with that.

To repeat myself from the BR post - I went a bit more colorful than Kairos here.

We have to remember though, who was the narrator of Buffy's most recent update on the Angel Investigations dealings with W&H. Can you even remotely imagine Spike *not* painting his own role at AI as a prime-savior -warrior, and not diminishing everybody else roles to that of outright drones - serving to highlight *his majesty's* glory ? I bet that in Spike's depiction, poor ol'Angel was a soggy old cog - completely outsmarted by W&H wiles and consumed by darkness , Wesley was no more than lawn ornament, Fred was a pair of pretty legs with cute glasses on top( who made eyes at him), and Gunn was just a hired thug with an axe. The day was obviously saved on a daily basis by yours effulgent truly - and in the end he himself alone even abducted a piece of W&H stolen tech, and liberated the bugs. The fact that Buffy was able to process all that twaddle and come up with Angel name first is amazing in itself. (Though I suspect Willow was to blame for more reasonable/grounded commentary. Angel was a never a talker, and besides they were otherwise occupied when they last were together.)

I can certainly imagine Spike that does things worse than as well as glorify himself, but I cannot stand that Chambliss has put Angel and Spike in the same plane. I find it unfair, reductive and disrespectful of his character. It's about time that Buffy did a phone call in Los Angeles and spoke with Gunn, I'm sure that would give much information. It would be asking too much?

What do you think will happen if (as many are speculating) Illyria enters on scene now?
Buffy will know who it is from what Spike said, but maybe her do not know who Fred was, and how Angel saved her from the monsters of Pylea..

you see my point? I do not want Angel's life is filtered through the vision of Spike. I thought that the arc W & H, approaching more Buffy and Angel and see the name of Spike I was very irritated. I loved the idea that Buffy tackles the bitter enemy of Angel and Spike has nothing to do with all this.

..and maybe (seen that Scott Allie said that Buffy knows of Connor), I say ..maybe Spike was telling her everything? This would make me piss off a lot..

Yeah, the "Internet for the Soul" is definitely a play on "Chicken Soup" - which is clever not only because it implies soup without using a source that matches the Campbell's can logo, but because it works on another level now that we know the secret of TinCan's hardware. There are actual souls involved here!

Thanks for explaining the appeal of the tentacles from a tech standpoint. That actually did help me feel a little better about that whole scene. :)

Hm. So you're thinking maybe the parallel to Willow/Kennedy is something like, "Restoring Giles isn't going to undo what happened between you and Buffy" / "Doesn't mean I don't care about her"? I could buy that, but it's a pretty tenuous connection. I'll keep my eye on it.

Thus she insists that her reason for destroying the Seed was not fixing the mistake she made ( which she would deem being 'selfish' reason) but to keep evil out of this world. In itself this is a very bold statement , but I don't think it denies having made mistakes in the first place - and there were plenty of these made by many last season.

This. Hark.

The red/grey panels were the art that I liked the best, too. I forgot about that Buffy&Koh cover; wonder what that's about? Probably a mislead - I mean, one of the previous ones looked like she was fighting alongside Simone.

Nice review, thanks. :)

Hm. So you're thinking maybe the parallel to Willow/Kennedy is something like, "Restoring Giles isn't going to undo what happened between you and Buffy" / "Doesn't mean I don't care about her"? I could buy that, but it's a pretty tenuous connection. I'll keep my eye on it.

Yes, something like that. Which also highlights the fact that Angel is obsessed with Giles resurrection not because he (selfishly) believes that he can be forgiven ( remember 'what I deserve is a stake in the heart') if he brings Giles back - but because he thinks it is the right things to do - because Giles is more deserving to live than he himself, and because Buffy's pain might be alleviated this way. The notion that she might suffer if he kills himself in the process does not enter his mind.

As for tentacles - yes these are IMHO metaphorical representation of the Powar of the Internet - in their cable-y glory.

Also - the avatars included Joss, Scott Allie himself, Jeanty, Sierra and Andrew Chambliss. The girl on the picture with Georges might be his colorist (?)

Edited at 2012-08-11 05:14 am (UTC)

I still think/hope that Angel isn't intending to bring back Giles at all, but if he is, I would like it to be played like this.

Really? o.O You sure know your faces!

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