Monday, December 10, 2007

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #9

"No Future For You" part four
By Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Georges Jeanty (pencils), Andy Owens (inks), Dave Stewart (colors), Richard Starkings (letters), and Joss Whedon (executive producer). Published by Dark Horse Comics.

Here concludes the arc concerned primarily with our favorite troubled slayer, Faith.

Her cover blown in the previous issue, Faith now confronts Genevieve, the rogue slayer whom Giles tasked her to kill.

Before we get to the action, however, we have a flashback, narrated by Faith, that helps to set up this issue's theme of mentorship and growth. The gist of this flashback is the conflicted feelings Faith has for her former mentor/father figure, the Mayor.* She felt loved by the Mayor, despite his evil nature.

This past relationship mirrors the current relationship between Genevieve and her mentor, Roden, a warlock who's a sort of anti-watcher. Roden has filled Genevieve's head with the notion that the slayer powers are her exclusive birthright, and that it is her destiny to slay all the pretenders.

Faith and Genevieve have this much in common, that mentors who supposedly care for them have led them down very bad paths.

While the slayers battle, Giles, with the help of a diminutive fellow named Trafalgar, tries to break the mystical barrier that Roden has erected around Genevieve's estate. They can't do it.

The fight continues. Faith wins, albeit more decisively than she intended. At this point Roden appears, and he's not upset at the loss of his charge. Instead, he asks Faith to take her place and help him get rid of Buffy.

Now, here Faith has brief reaction that implies she'd like to get rid of Buffy. Roden plays on this in his evil-villain-tempts-with-promises-of-power speech. Admittedly i haven't given the final television season of BtVS as much attention as the rest**, but i seem to remember that Faith and Buffy at least made peace with one another. It's been implied earlier in this arc that Faith would still like to kill Buffy, but that doesn't scan. It's a retrofit in her characterization. That said, it isn't dwelt upon, and the character moves past it, so it's not something that really mars the story.

Herein we get a tantalizing bit about the overarching threat for this season. Roden presents Faith with a big black book emblazoned with the "twilight" symbol that's been strewn about since issue one. He calls it "the guidebook" and claims it will show them how to get rid of Buffy. More, he says that, in exchange for helping his superiors achieve this goal, he will be granted "clemency from the coming purge."

Faith cracks the book across Roden's face. Roden starts in with the violent hoodoo. Just when it looks like he's got Faith on the ropes, Giles enters and stabs Roden. He's not down, however. Faith hurls the twilight guidebook to Giles. Somehow, Giles flips immediately to a page with a useful spell. He didn't have to check the index or anything! I won't tell you what happens, except to say that the Ripper aspect of Giles comes to the fore, and Roden is done for.

I need to backtrack a bit here. How did Giles get through the mystical barrier? Willow did it. Also, Buffy is really pissy about the fact that Giles is working with "her" without even telling her. Again, when did Faith and Buffy start hating each other again? Of course Buffy's reaction is over the top. When she storms off, Xander says that maybe she just needs some alone time, to which Buffy responds "what other kind is there?" Yes, Buffy, nobody loves you. Your friends risk their lives for you over and over, they always forgive you when you do something really stupid, and hundreds of slayers idolize you. You're SO ALONE. Why don't you go cry about it to one of the TWO vampires who worship you. And, apparently in all the years she's spent with Giles she hasn't learned to trust him. Even though this part bothers me, it's still very true to the show. This is just one of those moments when i really don't like Buffy.

Epilogue one: Faith and Giles decide to continue to work together. At first it sounds like Faith wants to focus on helping new Slayers who are headed down the wrong path. But then it sounds like she and Giles will also be doing more "black ops" that are too dirty for Buffy and the other Scoobies. It would seem that either goal could be very time-consuming, but hey, this is a world with talking slugs, so it would be silly of me to get nitpicky about time management. The important thing is that these two characters go together very well. More importantly, Faith now has a good mentor at last.

Epilogue two: Tease the season-plot! A woman in military garb exits a helicopter and requests an audience with someone who's floating. She displays the "twilight" symbol on her palm. Here we see the Big Bad directly for the first time. His name is Twilight. His face is covered with a mask, and he has that symbol on his chest. Here's the cool stuff that has got me speculating, trying to figure out where this season is going***. Twilight says that he's trying to end the "age of magic." He doesn't regret losing Genevieve and Roden, because that's two magical elements removed from the world. Since he floats, or flys, it would seem that he uses magic, but it could be advanced technology. Or...maybe he's a supervillain? It would make metafictional sense that the first comic book -based season of Buffy would have a bone fide supervillain as the big bad. He does have a mask and a symbol on his chest. Hrmm. Also, in the Fray comic from a few years back, the future was shown to have been free of most if not all magical elements. Could Twilight be successful in his quest? We should learn more about all this quite soon, since Faith and Giles now have a copy of the "guidebook".

Verdict: Thumbs up!

*Best villain in the history of BtVS, bar none.

**I watched S7 once only, S6 twice (plus a couple more times for the musical episodes), S1-5 i've watched many, many times.

***Which really takes me back to the heyday of the tv show. It's awesome! B5 was that way, too. I just realized that the HBO shows i like are also like that, but since i watch them on DVD, the answers come quicker.