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July 26 2007

(SPOILER) A review of Buffy #5 'The Chain'. So what you think of Joss' first stand-alone story of season 8?

Reposting my Things from the other thread because my thoughts are so profound and deep that they demand maximum exposure. Obvs.

1. It was sad.
2. The Vi/Andrew commercial was awesome.
3. Who are the women to the sides of Giles at the lectern? Rona and someone?
4. Who is Janie Kleinman?
5. I prefer Paul Lee's art to Georges Jeanty's.
6. Something about underlying pathos.
Call me masochistic but I loved it. I cried.
I had already decided to keep the 2nd variant cover of the four copies I buy for myself and friends but now I'm torn. Chen's cover is so evocative once you have read the issue.
And I loved the little visual tribute to one of the stories of Tales of the Slayers. I think it was Jane Espenson's story.
UB? Well, less, that could be "yoobee" but that reminds me of Eubie Blake which, while not a bad thing in itself, is jarring in this context.
How about "ubbie?" Well, sounds a bit masculine-ish, plus it reminds me of Ubby Puckham, the egotistical deputy on The Doris Day Show.

Maybe "oobee?" Well that kinda sounds like the ueber-Buffy-except-without-an-umlaut but it's reasonably okay.
Lioness, yes, the slayer in drag is from Jane Espenson's "Jane Austen" story. There's also the Navajo slayer from David Fury's tale.

How can so many smart people not get the egg joke? The faerie is like a bug. Get it?
I thought it was a brilliant issue.

"The truth? There is no truth. There's just what you believe."

One of Joss' best pieces of dialogue, in this Unplugged's opinion.

Though I sadly admit the fairy egg thing confounds me. Either that, or it's the rare Joss joke that falls flat. Maybe it'd be better spoken, instead of in print.

[ edited by UnpluggedCrazy on 2007-07-26 00:02 ]
Hmm, maybe, Unplugged. I think it's partly a call-back to Buffy's demon infection in Earshot ("Infected? Infected? Giles! Infected?!"). Jane Espenson commented on how much SMG's line reading added to that joke.
Oh wow. I totally didn't realize that was Andrew. Duh, me. I thought the commercial was hilarious in its own right though. In other slowness-of-me news, I think I'm trying to read too much into the faerie egg line. It's the bionerdiness.

The nonlinear storytelling didn't work so well for me. I thought the cutting back and forth in previous issues was ok, but I felt a little lost as I read this one on the first time through. The thing that looks like a leafblower did not disappoint though. Neither did the narrative overall. This was nicely dark. It was interesting to see how some of the new Slayers are very unlike Buffy (pink haired punk Slayer, I am looking at you) and at the same time see how a different character can feel as alone and be as brave as Buffy.

ETA: There's an ad with some random guy in a t-shirt. What's up with that?

[ edited by Sunfire on 2007-07-26 00:56 ]
Random guys in T-Shirts are easy to hire.
Okay. Thought. In Issue 1, Buffy mentions a Slayer that's "underground". In Issue 2, we see the pink-haird punk Slayer being trained by Andrew (god help her).

Here though, we see the punk Slayer in a leadership position before faux-Buffy ever goes underground.

Is it just me, or does the timeline not synch up?

Oh! Also, I loved the issue. Even more so on my second readthrough.
That's a good point, TBalena, but it wasn't clear in the fight scene whether Pink Hair was actually the leader, or just arrogating that, with the help of her groupies. I can see her washing out of Rona's squad and getting sent to a more remedial, less front-line unit with Andrew.
I thought the fairy joke was hilarious. And I agree with the reviewer that Mike Bellinger's first appearance was very strange and took me out of the issue at first, but I think it would've been good if you could hear the inflection of what he was saying. Also it works as a meta-comment, because the audience is also asking who the hell this girl is. But I thought the reviewer's comment was funny anyway.
Ovipositor

And if I only found that funny because I am very, very sick, I accept that.
The standard line of praise for Joss is that his dialogue is sparkling, witty, literate. But it's better than that. It's true to character. And the central, pointedly unnamed character in issue 5 is highly inarticulate.

In her one pre-empowerment scene, she misuses the word "fascism," a classmate calls her on it, and she doesn't even know she's been corrected. In this way, "Buffy" is the opposite of Buffy, whose many powers include verbal dexterity.

She is inarticulate in another way: The first time we see her, her mouth is open but no words can come out. She is dead. Her arms are stretched out, like Buffy's at the climax of "The Gift," when she sacrificed her life to save the world. (The demon that killed "Buffy," he's articulate, and wants others to articulate his glorious deed of killing Buffy Summers.)

This "Buffy" doesn't have words, so her deeds speak for her. She risks her neck for a fellow slayer, and a vampire sinks his teeth in. She risks her life pushing friends (and a total stranger) out of the way of a truck, and leaves herself in the way. And she goes into her final battle warned that she will die.

The stranger, a football player in her high school, is shown doing the exact same thing twice. He stands over her asking, "Who the hell are you?" The first time, we don't know whether he's knocked her down, yelling at her, trying to make her feel insignificant. The second time, we realize he is awed by her for saving his life. She changed the meaning of everything. She had no choice but to become a slayer, but she made the choice to be more than a killer. She didn't have to believe there's a chain connecting us all, but she chose to, and that choice creates the connection.

She's an imitation, this "Buffy," but she's also the real thing. She gives the gift. We never know her name, but we know who she is. She saved the world.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-07-26 04:39 ]
Pointy, I'm not sure she so much misunderstands fascism, as exaggerates its scope to refer to all mis-uses of authority, as a brainy teenager might. I don't think she's inarticulate. She's more articulate, at a younger age, than the real Buffy even later in life about the larger issues of slayerdom. She's also shown to be more worldly than the average teenager before slayerness hits her. She's not a foil of Buffy, like Faith and Dana, but rather shows where slayerness might have really hit it on the head.

And yet she's not a more effective slayer. Her selflessness makes her die sooner and acquire less experience. That's something to think about.
Greetings, all. This is a little off-topic, but I didn't know where to post about Comic-Con developments. I just got home from Preview Night, where I managed to snag a shiny new mug from the California Browncoats and visit the Dark Horse booth. DH is giving away a preview book which contains, among other things, a six-page preview of Buffy Season 8, #6 ("No Future For You, Part One"). I'm happy to report that it looks like Brian K. Vaughan is treating us to quite a ride with his Faith arc. The first six pages are darn near perfect, with zippy banter, amazing action, and beautiful artwork by Georges. It's too bad we didn't get a "Faith" spinoff after all -- the sneak peek of Buffy #6 really shows what could have been.
Again, sorry for the digression! :)
Bruce I'm with you on this one, all the way.

Weirdly enough this series of comics have barely seemed like Buffy at all. 'Buffy lite' seems like a fair description to me.

But good for those folks who like it though.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2007-07-26 09:39 ]
Pointy, like your analysis of the use of the football player. Hadn't thought of it that way before.

[ edited by Lioness on 2007-07-26 22:48 ]
I enjoyed the issue but I liked the first arc more.I get what Joss was going for though,I think.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2007-07-26 15:12 ]
Well out of all the comic books Joss has written, I figure this is the best one he has done to date. This was great storytelling and would have made a great Buffy tv episode. I loved it, two thumbs up.
I'm a teensy bit chuffed about this 'very important' issue before even reading it(BTW 'chuffed' means happy) because one of the characters has a name that is infinitely similar to mine, and I like to think that Joss met me, signed my name, and liked it enough to use in comic book form. That's what makes it SO special.

A gal can dream, can't she?! :-D
This issue felt a little thin despite the effectiveness of the final page white out. I think it may become richer in retrospect when connections between it and the main story will have had time to play out. The emphasis on the cult of Buffy, the growing insularity of the Slayer movement, Simone and her guns issues. I also missed Jeanty’s art, the quirkiness and the emotional range he can give faces, this guy was competent but a little flat somehow and such a sparse polemical story felt as if it needed more. I liked it best in the last moments and in the initial school section with its parable of the panties (even if the latter puts an inadvertently comic spin on the Jo Chen cover).
This slayer didn't have a Xander to revive her (or any Scoobie, for that matter). And as we've heard time and again, slayers don't last long without a support group.
Loved. It.

Cried. And I so enjoyed the new take on the Fairy that over at Goners, I have become she and am busy laying eggs in everyone's ear canals. They turn into ear worms and replay the theme from "Leave It To Beaver" and "Mannix."

About the Chain - this from Virginia Woolf's The Waves might be helpful:

"Something has been left out from fear. Something has been altered, from vanity. We have tried to accentuate differences. From the desire to be separate we have laid stress upon our faults, and what is particular to us. But there is a chain whirling round, round, in a steel-blue circle beneath."
I found this issue to be really powerful, and incredibly sad. This is probably like so many of the slayers over the centuries, who were called and killed without really being known. I'm sorry we don't have a name for this wonderful snarky and brave slayer, but I guess that is kinda the point, huh?

Oh I missed that give-away at the Dark Horse booth, I'll need to get back over there... like now.
I guess I'll re-read it again, because I didn't find it all that resonant or powerful and I'm usually a sucker for that ;) (count me among those who felt the one-panel jump-cuts took me out of the story) Don't get me wrong, it was interesting and I see all of the things the big purple J was laying down, but when I was done I said "Okay, cool." and moved on. I certainly enjoyed it and I'm not saying anything bad about it, I just didn't feel the planet shift beneath me as I read it.
I wouldn't say it was a powerful piece like others but it was good and did give us a glimpse into what Slayers go through, especially one of the decoys.
They turn into ear worms and replay the theme from "Leave It To Beaver" and "Mannix."

My God, that's horrible. Couldn't they just eat your flesh?
I'm totally swamped at work but wanted to give a quick vote in favor of #5. I loved it and will also give it two thumbs up. It was my favorite issue to date. Though I did find that Mike guy's first appearance jarring, it made sense after reading the whole story. I'd like to go into a detailed analysis/commentary but deadlines call.

The commercial - so funny. And yeah, a Vi appearance. This pink haired, punk slayer, Simone, is making me nervous. There's trouble down the road with this one and her gun fetish. Also, I don't think she's a trainer, just a newbie acting tough.
Maybe in a future issue we'll see Buffy's reaction to the news, that one of her doubles was killed. Perhaps then we'll get a name for this unsung hero.
I don't know if this has been mentioned yet, but I know a lot of people either don't have a local comics shop or don't care to go to theirs, so I'll throw this out there for everyone--my local Barnes & Noble carries the Buffy comics. I didn't know this until a couple of weeks ago when I went to get Will The Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? and there was issue #4 in the magazine area within the Entertainment section. They didn't have the new issue yet when I went today, but the clerk working in magazines said that's because their mag shipment was late. She said they'd been carrying all the issues so far, and #5 should be in when the shipment arrived, probably tomorrow. She wasn't sure if all B&Ns are carrying it either.
I have been getting mine at the comic shop, but it's a monumental pain to park there, that's if one is lucky enough to snag one of the five spaces. Otherwise I have to find a spot at a meter which of course has to be paid for, so the free parking at B&N is a little bonus for me.
Anyway, if you have a Barnes & Noble, could be worth a call to see if they carry it.
I hope Joss at some point feels like telling us about Janie Kleinman.
Until Joss makes me stop, I'm calling the Unknown Slayer Janie :)

Until Joss makes me stop, I'm calling the Unknown Slayer Janie :)


Maybe she named herself Joan, or was a real Joan. Ok, bad joke. Moving on. Moving on.
(Haven't read it yet. Remember that it takes some time for it to arrive down here on the south hemisphere. But loving the fact that it's generating a lot of controversy, for or against the work Joss has been showing in Season 8)
The initial four issues felt like one episode. This felt like the basis for an episode by itself. One of those standout everyone-talks-about-it episodes Joss delivers between the season opening and finale, probably.
I haven't read the issue yet, so I'm shielding my eyes from the spoilers in here. I'm confused, though: Wasn't this issue supposed to come out August 1st?
Yes, it was, but it shipped early.
I hope Joss at some point feels like telling us about Janie Kleinman.

Wasn't she the DH contest winner?
Robin Balzer is the contest winner and Issue #10 guest star, so Janie Kleinman remains a woman of mystery.

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