Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: Buffy Season 9, #5 - Slayer, Interrupted

PLOT SUMMARY

A haggard-looking Buffy, Xander and Dawn are fighting off a horde of zompires at Buffy's apartment building. They make their way to Buffy's apartment, but once they're safe inside, Buffy sees that Xander and Dawn have been turned. They attack her, but are staked from behind by The First Slayer, who tells Buffy "You are not The Slayer." Buffy realizes it's a dream and jumps at the First Slayer, who punches Buffy in the gut, causing her to wake up with real-life nausea.

Buffy retells the tale to Willow, who asks why she didn't ask any of the other Slayers if they had slayer dreams. Buffy admits that she's not in communication with them (save for Kennedy, who still blames Buffy for the breakup with Willow) and wonders what the First Slayer meant. Willow suggests she look in the Vampyr book Giles left Buffy.

Buffy pulls out the book, but quickly falls into another dream. The First Slayer points to a horde of zompires and the Scythe, broken and stuck in stone. The First Slayer says "Only The Slayer can pull the blade from the ground. You are not The Slayer." Buffy jumps at the First Slayer and tackles her to the ground. She turns into a faerie, at which point Buffy wakes up.

Buffy consults with Willow again, thinking her dreams are being hijacked. Willow says the only way she's going to solve this is in her dreams, so she comes over to watch over Buffy while she sleeps. Back in dream world, the faerie explains her presence (she'd witnessed the death of the Buffy impostor in S8 #5 and was there to punish Buffy, who the faerie thought was the impostor), and says that when she was planting the nightmares in Buffy's head, she found something Buffy needed to know.

The fairy and the First Slayer bring Buffy back to the scythe. Buffy tries to pull it from the stone, but she can't. Willow, however, can, and says it may be the key to restoring magic. She tells Buffy she needs to leave, and it may be a long trip. Buffy lets Willow go, the dream ends, and the faerie again says Buffy is not the Slayer. Buffy says she needs to wake up to tell Willow about the dream, but the faerie says that Willow already knows, and Buffy realizes that the goodbye in the dream WAS goodbye. Buffy wakes up and Willow and the scythe are gone.

Buffy runs outside to find her, but quickly becomes nauseated again. She has an epiphany, and when we se her coming home, she blows off her roommates and heads straight to the bathroom. Buffy's roommates say they know she's a slayer and they're not sure it's safe to live with her, but Buffy has bigger problems (highlight for spoiler): she's pregnant!

REVIEW



Story

OK, I have lots of speculative theories about some of the meanings of Buffy's dreams, as well as who the father of Buffy's baby might be (if she's even actually pregnant, since it's all cliffhangery), but I'm going to save those for a separate post and review this issue on its own merits.

The fifth issue of Season 9 shares a lot of qualities of the fifth issue of Season 8, and the two are tied directly together by the fairy. Thematically, both issues deal with the question: "in a world with thousands of slayers, can anyone truly be THE Slayer?" Buffy has been dealing with this struggle since the beginning of Season 8, when she was cast into a leadership role she never quite felt right in, and now that even that's been taken away from her, she's unsure where she fits in at all in the world, and the mysterious dreams sure aren't helping.

On a more basic level, I loved the focus on Buffy, Willow and their relationship in this issue (and, when I was first writing this, I actually wrote the word "episode" there, because at times the stuff between them really did feel as much like the TV series as any of the post-TV comics have). Willow was only tangentially involved in the first Season 9 arc, and it's good to see her back in a big way. We got a glimpse into her post-magic life, as well as a glimpse of where she's going (and, if you remember the Fray arc from Season 8, that destination may not be a good one).

Score: 5 out of 5


Art

Karl Moline steps in for this one-shot, and I love it when he gets to play in the Buffy sandbox, particularly with Willow (who he drew masterfully in the Season 8 Willow one-shot and does a great job with again here).

His Buffy is a little more Gellar-esque than regular artist Georges Jeanty's, which is a welcome change of pace for some and a confusing one for others. I thought he did a really good job with Buffy, particularly with her hair, which changed multiple times in the issue, but never in a way that was unrealistic from one style to the next.

And, if you'll indulge just a BIT of speculation here, I can't help but notice something interesting regarding Buffy's hair. When she's feeling nauseated at the end of the issue, she has her hair pulled into two long side pigtails. But her hair is completely different in the pregnancy test scene, with her hair pulled back into a ponytail -- the same style she was wearing in the opening dream sequence panels. Hmm...

Lastly, on a non-speculative note, I loved how Moline drew Xander and Dawn as zompires. They were completely recognizable as the actors, but also frightening. Zompire Dawn is probably one of my favorite panels in the whole book.

Score: 5 out of 5

Covers

This is my favorite Steve Morris cover so far, with a great image of a confused Buffy looking at the faerie (who is blended into the background). She's wearing a stunning multi-colored gown, which fades into imagry of Xander (being bitten by a zompire), Zompire Dawn and Willow holding the broken seed, while Buffy herself is perched on a chair, as if she's trying to get away from the monsters nipping at her feet.

Jeanty's cover has Buffy in a similar seated pose, though this time out of dejection as Willow walks off, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. The two covers complement each other nicely, and both are a solid addition to the Buffy cover gallery.

Score: 5 out of 5

Overall

Last issue I said I was reserving the "5" score for something that blew me away from start to finish, and this issue did. I thought #5 is where Season 8 really started to kick into gear, and it looks like that'll be the same for Season 9.

I do want to say, though, that I almost bumped down the score just for the re-use of the "Slayer, Interrupted" title. That was previously used for an arc of Volume 1 of the Dark Horse "Buffy" series, which showed Buffy's time in a mental institution (the arc itself being a reference to Buffy's post-Hemery life that was hinted at in Season 6's "Normal Again"). That was one of my favorite arcs of the original comic series, but the title works here as well.

Score: 5 out of 5

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