I refuse to address the specific scene in this issue which grew out so organically and flawlessly from a perfect narrative in the excellent comic we love known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 and add to the worthless rhetoric and cacophony out there of whether the events in this issue constitute yet another “pro-gay” agenda item in the media. I am here to say: they most certainly do not. Not that there would be anything wrong with that.
Yet, to diminish this piece of well crafted narrative fiction as a publicity stunt (Some have claimed that it was done merely to boost sales, are they high?? have they been reading the same comic? By the way Buffy was doing very well before this thank you very much, cracking the top 10 nearly every month and placing Dark Horse in the stratosphere usually occupied by the big two (Marvel and DC) selling a whopping 120,000 issues a month at last count, would be a gross misinterpretation of facts.
I will critically review this issue with the same eye I have been filtering the previous eleven issues of the series, through the eyes of one of its biggest fans and also a lover of the comic book medium.
Joss Whedon and company are doing something unprecedented here after all, adapting an iconic established franchise into an entirely new medium, and damn if they haven’t done a fantastic job of it thus far. This issue is no exception, I am happy to say, continuing the traditions and conventions established in the Buffyverse since the WB days and expanding on a whole new story arc which encompasses the character growth we have come to expect from a Whedon production while at the same time maintaining its consistency. A new big bad for the season has made his appearance once and for all.
This issue was written by Drew Goddard, the man behind some of my favorite season seven episodes including the excellent “Conversations with Dead People” and a current executive producer of the TV show “Lost.” Here, it is evident that Goddard understands the dynamic of every former Sunnydale denizen. Witness Xander’s subtle romance with Renee and it’s like watching him pine all over again for Buffy in season one. Xander has grown, he’s more battle tested, but in many ways he’s still that akward social misfit which was so brilliantly portrayed by Nick Brendon and which so seamlessly gets translated onto the color pages here, minus one eye.
Still not convinced? Witness every priceless scene featuring Andrew, the reoccurring former nerd turned Scooby, especially his reaction to the now infamous scene with Satsu and it’s like we’re smack in the middle of the sixth or seventh season once more and loving every minute of it. There are countless other examples, but that so much delightful dialogue and nuance can be packed in a mere 22 page comic is a testament to the excellence of this comic book and to the fluid continuity Joss and company have built into the characters and the mythical world they inhabit. Like I’ve always said, you don’t have to watch the show to understand or enjoy the comic, but long time viewers and Buffy fans are rewarded by allusions, references and asides that only they will love and chuckle about, and that is part of the beauty of reading this comic.
Perhaps lost in the hoopla over Satsu is the fact that Buffy continues to be a confident, competent commander. That’s what she was when she became the chosen one and rallied the troops against undead and personal problems alike, and that is what she is today, except now she has a few years of adulthood under her belt to help her sort out some of the madness. Not that she can completely grasp it all, a flawed Buffy is a perfect Buffy and the sooner one understands this oxymoron, the easier it is to grasp her character traits.
Add another nearly flawless cover by Jun Foster and some arresting and compelling yet familiar interior artwork by the dependable and incomparable Georges Jeanty, that to remember this comic for that single image on the third page (initially shocking as it may have been to some) alone would be as unfair as dismissing the TV show by its silly name. That’s what some clueless people did, the rest of us know better.