Brian K. Vaughan resumes his “No Future For You” story arc this issue as a logical extension to the season seven TV finale “Chosen” by expanding the premise that “…Every girl in the world who might be a Slayer will be a slayer” as Buffy herself said.
What happens when Slayers go rogue? This question is answered as Faith, once a rogue Slayer herself, is dispatched to take care of Gigi, the loose cannon in the new Slayer globe spanning arsenal, presumably not the only one, but albeit the most pressing matter to a Watcher’s Council now headed by Giles.
This of course leads to a delicious character study of Faith, or rather an extension of that character which was so clearly defined in the television series and which was one of the most compelling re-occurring characters created by Whedon, being much more than a foil to Buffy.
Yet, even Faith can see that Gigi’s plan is seriously flawed and impractical, especially if she is planning to get through Buffy to elevate her status among weaker girls, whose leadership she views as akin to some power hungry dictator’s reign.
Vaughan gets Faith’s character and does a masterful job of bringing forth the pathos in her personality, unlike Buffy, Faith’s a product of her environment, street wise and battled hardened, the perfect Slayer to go on a covert mission the council wouldn’t want to dirty their hands with.
The big problem is Faith is damaged goods and as such, she responds to emotional attachments and pampering. It started with Mayor Wilkins and it continues here. In probably the best scene in the comic, Faith tries to counsel Gigi’s total trust of Roden, but Gigi’s unwavering trust of the latter has convinced her he’s not being manipulative, which is of course the case. Faith is less naive in these matters and she tries to warn Gigi, but the younger Slayer hasn’t been used by men as much and is blinded by visions of power.
The inevitable battle between the two Slayers happens when Roden teleports Buffy into their domain and it takes Buffy some time to realize what’s going down. It’s interesting to see how Buffy recovers in mid-battle and once she gets the upper hand, her sense of righting injustices perpetrated against the other Slayers almost leads her to punishing Gigi, but how far should she have gone had Faith not intervened? It’s an interesting but disturbing case of role reversals. Here, it’s faith being the moral level headed Slayer.
Buffy doesn’t ever think clearly when it comes to Faith, while she often thought of her in a maternal, even big sister type way, Buffy once empathized with Faith because following Kendra’s murder, only she knew what it was like to carry the “burden” of Slayerdom, but of course, that is no longer the case. Buffy jumps to conclusions and that leads to another epic fight with Faith. While the issue’s requisite cliffhanger is interesting, it may not be as satisfying as Buffy’s confrontation with her watcher in which she will undoubtedly grill Giles for sending Faith on a covert mission.
While Jeanty’s artwork on the title hasn’t taken a dip in quality, especially when it comes to rendering almost photo realistic shots of Faith, the same can’t be said about the entire enterprise. For once I didn’t like the original cover, omitting such details as Faith’s distinguishable tattoo.
Vaughan’s writing does seem to dip a little in comparison to Whedon’s arcs which were replete with revelations, re-introductions of classic Buffy characters and new complications. He still manages to nail the characterizations and adds enough chuckles to balance an action heavy issue. Even Faith’s choice of moniker (she goes by the codename Hope) alludes to her sense of alienation and longing, a credit to the writer’s faithful adaptation of the character.
There’s also something completely gratifying about Willow and Buffy planning the fortification of the castle which serves to remind the reader that this isn’t Sunnydale. Far from it, the question of the Slayer traditions versus the “real” world which was a big thematic slant for season 4 of the program takes a graver moral turn here.
This issue also seems a bit more accessible to new readers, but Buffy viewers will still get the most enjoyment out of season eight “in jokes” and allusions to the TV drama, and that is as is should be.