I have not done full-scale reviews for a while, but might as well try and jump in now at least for a couple of issues.
BtVS S9 Issue #8
Starts with an interesting panel – we see Andrew lying on his bed , his face crisscrossed with shadows thrown by window frame. It almost appears as if he is in prison, behind bars. The next panel clarifies the situation right away – his window is being forced open, and multiple sheets of paper fly into the room on the flow of air, as two dark silhouettes appear out of the blinding light stepping through the window. It almost appears as if Aliens finally have come for Andrew…
Smiling like a fool Andrew says - Finally ?
I knew this would happen.
As he babbles about digging into his Alien abduction kit – because he'd missed his laundry day - it becomes clear , however, that the two menacing dark figures are merely one-armed-robo-Buffy and Spike – who habitually crouches on Andrew's window sill, in an angry chicken pose.
Spike : Need a chat, mate.
Andrew is dressed into his Star Wars uniform (?) whilst holding an Avengers T-shirt. He is a bit scared and is trying to figure things out – when he notices that robo-Buffy is missing her right arm. Immediately, he tries to offer her a replacement – but the robo-Buffy is in full-anger mode, sparks flying from her wired stump and all, while her left arm is swinging at him. I have to say, I was disappointed that she actually did not hit him – but I suppose the Slayer's common sense took over as she realized she needed the guy alive, if she wanted her body back. All the while Spike was looming in the background, menacingly.
Next few panels, are a switch to Det. Dowling identifying his partner’s body in the morgue – and listening to the grisly list of internal and external injuries that the coroner throws at him. Well, we all know Miranda is dead – but it appears that she died a rather grisly and painful death as well – before she was turned. Way to go Dowling – gallivanting with Spike was fun, but then you just left her to the zompires? At the very least though, the scene delivers an emotional punch, letting us assume that Dowling is actually devastated by her death.
Switch back to Andrew and Co. And we see Andrew awkwardly trying to explain how the pH balance in the TrueBlood ( I guess that was the fluid that Andrew used for the bot’s internal piping) could have resulted in a positive pregnancy test, while his programming of the bot processing food failed – thus resulting in her barfing; and how he did not program her periods into the BUFFYBOT OS 10. Right.
The sad part is how truly wistful the robo-Buffy sounds about her never-existing-pregnancy – it almost feels as if she is more upset about it being a fake-out, than finding out about being a robot… All her proper and practical decisions aside, I have a feeling that maybe Buffy did not mind being pregnant… as much as she now hates being put through all of that decision making without an actual case. If they are making a point of Buffy needing to change to become a real young woman with real life problems – now that she no longer has an excuse of believing that she will die young – than maybe the joke is on us, the audience, to get it. I have to say though that if such a subtext is hidden here, than it is very well buried under a load of outlandish plot twists and assumptions.
The scenes when Andrew tries to console robo-Buffy with a replacement (second left ) arm turns nearly violent – and Spike jumps in to assure the robo-Buffy that the ‘help’ he asked from Andrew did not include ‘going down the tin-Slayer road again’. I actually believe him – he would not want to screw up things with real Buffy by going down that route. Turns out, Spike ‘just’ asked Andrew for help while investigating the Elder-Koh scare (that turned out to be a false one). In retrospect, I have to say that Spike screwed up that case royally – not only he missed the real danger that was Severin, he also got Andrew involved (instead of confiding in say Willow, Xander, Riley, or even Robin Wood), which resulted in the whole robo-Buffy mess.
It turned out, Andrew actually roofied Buffy at the party by spiking her drink… how creepy is that? To quote from Andrew direct ‘That is how you wound up in the bedroom with Spike.’ Right.
Next we have a few flash-back panels – back to the ill-fated party, and I have to confess that here is when switching the artists created a continuity issue for me – because Cliff Richard’s drawing of Buffy in the same flimsy and colorful outfit that we saw her wearing in issue #1 , really highlighted the difference in style between him and Georges Jeanty – and in these panels the comparison clearly did not work in Cliff Richard’s favor.
Buffy looks seriously out of control on these panels with pink bubbles drawn around her head, I guess, to indicate her being drugged– and it is an increasingly ugly and embarrassing row of panels – and I seriously wonder how anybody who saw this issue could have gushed out about ‘implied female nudity’, and how kinky and great it was; because these scenes are definitely not kinky – but seriously creepy, as they should be, in all honesty. And yes, she winks at Spike with her eyes half-closed and puts a finger under his chin – but thankfully he sort of shrinks away from her, not wanting to take advantage and all.
Drunk, and stoned, and dripping wet Buffy rips off her top in front of Spike – then awkwardly falls on her bed (on her stomach), and passes out, half naked. He covers her with a blanket, without touching her – while mentioning that in the morning she will get pain that ‘…you’ve no one to blame but yourself’. Spike is wrong assuming that Buffy got all that drunk all by herself – but he is all too familiar with the condition, and he saw her being that drunk at least once before – when he got her to the demon bar and got her drink all that booze. Still, I think somebody a bit more trusting in her good instincts, and less prone to heavy drinking himself might have got a bit more suspicious and at least tried to stick around her door to make sure nobody will take advantage of Buffy in her condition. As it turns out however, Spike leaves Buffy drugged and helpless in her room and walks away.
Turns out, Andrew was watching Buffy pass out while hiding with the Bot in the room opposite to hers. He then sneaked in the Bot , and used Warren-developed tech(that he stole from Twilight HQ) to transfer Buffy’s mind into the Bot, and vise-versa.
There is a kind of almost funny panel there when Andrew jerks his head at the Bot very fast – and is drawn with two heads on his shoulders – I would be mighty surprised if that was not a reference to Zaphod Beeblebrox. I won’t go into discussing the intricacies of the mind transfer – but it does appear to me that Andrew’s inner scale of morality is mighty twisted and bent. No need for me to rant on this – we all know Andrew is Joss’ second favorite character… Yes, this is where we see Mr. Gordo again – lying next to two topless Buffys – and that’s when Andrew throws a line that ‘I just took a left turn into Spike’s fantasy land.’ Way to go Andrew. By the way, there was apparently a danger of that transfer ‘leaving Buffy permanently drunk’ too – but that was just a little detail, right?
There is a lot of angry Spike in these next panels, as well as very angry Buffy – but alas – nobody slaps sense into Andrew, who keeps pushing the idea that he did this great and helpful thing to hide Buffy from the coming assassin… explaining his secrecy with analogy to a ‘witness protection’ program, and insisting that he is now ‘using those powers (apparently Warren’s tech) for good’. Right.
Finally, Buffy asks - ‘Where the Hell is my body?’
Then we have a flash-forward to a peaceful-looking suburb where Buffy-the-body with a mind of a robot is doing her gardening, cooking and laundry folding, not suspecting a thing until a wooden spoon used for mixing snaps in half in her hands, with one sharp end looking like a stake. Great set of panels, with a very dual subtext. Brings back memories of S8 – and Andrew and Vi starring Join the Slayers commercial that they used to run on tv. Except the robo-Buffy-with-Buffy-mind does not look thrilled or relieved at all when she is shown in the next set of panels, digesting this new information. In fact, when Spike tries to approach her, Buffy’s first reaction is very telling.
Spike: Hey Buffy.
Buffy: Spike. I don’t need you coming in here walking on eggshells. Do me a favor. Say something stupid. Or needy. Or creepy. Anything to make me forget… that none of what I went through was real.
Certainly, something like that thrown out of the blue ‘after’ his ‘I want normal and I want it with you’ in the last issue makes one wonder what exactly he can expect from her, ever? I mean… we know Buffy is mighty distressed and feeling at a complete loss in that mechanical body. In these panels she comes through as someone desperately clinging to the slipping sense of reality – and her biggest grief appears to be at finding herself dragged into ‘more bizarre Slayer crap’ - instead of dealing with problem the normal young woman of her age might deal with. (I have a feeling that the next issue will dig into this even deeper.) She certainly never even mentions Spike’s feelings for her – although in the next few panels our Slayer at least softens a bit and shows her kinder side.
Buffy: But fake as my problems were, you know what was real ? You showing up when I needed someone. Thank’s.
I still say her ‘someone’, instead of ‘you’ is very deliberate – but beggars cannot be choosers, right?
Robo-Buffy does put a hand (remaining one) on his shoulder, and Spike clasps it with his own on top, and this ends the warm moment between the two – with not a hint at much over the deep gratitude; certainly no attempt to go for a kiss on either side. Which, I suppose would have been awkward to request from a one-armed robot…
In the meantime, Andrew tries to solicit the Bugs to use more tech – like cloaking device while approaching their destination - with Spike secretly listening and getting a hint at Andrew’s attempts to subvert his precious Bugs. Spike is not happy – and he goes all vamp-face on Andrew- pitching that he could drop Andrew off the blimp for the baby scare alone…
What I find very true to Spike’s character though, is that he never shows a hint of regret over soliciting Andrew's 'help', or appears apologetic to Buffy specifically for that; he is very angry and aggressive with Andrew, and very meek and polite to Buffy, but well, he never says I am partially to blame for this.
And we switch to the Xander and Dawn apartment – where detective Dowling is visiting with his disturbing messages of Buffy being a robot , and his partner being turned into a zompire. It was not that obvious at first, but I think Dowling is drunk on these panels. And yes, Dawn and Xander are having problems – as Xander is angry enough at something ( he knows about Buffy-pregnancy by now, right?) to break a tile in the bathroom with his fist, while yelling at Dawn to help him find his eye-patch. As Dowling finishes his story of his partner turning vamp-Miranda – and eating the coroner – we switch back to the Bug blimp scenery.
Andrew is still cool about the whole thing- blast it – as even Spike vamp-face did not put the fear of God into him… and he continues to try and seduce the Bugs into talking and working with him.
They all see Buffy-the-body in her kitchen – apparently Andrew installed spying cameras there in her house – baking something. And the roboBuffy is almost in tears while watching that scene.
Buffy: My kitchen is awesome.
Andrew: Check out the entertainment center.
Spike: This is what you had in mind if we were gonna run away, Slayer?
Buffy: It wasn’t…
I saw some comments regarding Buffy liking that kitchen and the whole domesticity package a bit too much, but honestly kitchen was always the heart of her mom's house. That was where she and Joyce had almost all the important mother-daughter conversations in SS 1-2-3, that was where Buffy cooked that humongous breakfast for Dawn, and that was where the beginning of her confrontation with Faith was exposed most vividly over a family meal... To put it short ,kitchen was the symbol of family on that show for a very long time - and that strangely weird Thanksgiving episode in S4 was centered around the concept of cooking a dinner for the whole 'family' - something that is dearly missing in S9. Honestly, among many bizarre and outlandish things that this season brought us, roboBuffy liking that kitchen is one of the few things that makes perfect sense for me.
And the red alert goes on Beep, beep, beep as somebody breaks into the house of the Buffy-the-body . The bug blimp surges full speed ahead –
And we see Buffy-the-body taking a sip from a glass with red wine as a masked assailant points a gun at her , then hits her on the face saying ‘I’m gonna liberate you from this Betty Crocker bull6%0@.’ The glass shatters. Buffy-the-body goes down. The masked person pulls off a mask after tucking the unconscious Buffy-the-body into the green van – it is Simone.