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January 07 2009

(SPOILER) For the discussion of Buffy #21. Does everything change with this issue? Find out and see. ETA: Read a special blog by this issue's lead character over at MTV's Splash Page.

Okay, well, that was cute, but...I'm a little confused. I'm fairly certain it's been established in the past that, in the Buffyverse, vampires aren't public knowledge. There's a subconscious acknowledgment of their existence, but the vast majority of people don't know about them. So why, then, does Harmony Bites seem to attract so little attention until Harmony kills the Slayer? Wouldn't people be shocked? Surprised? The public's acceptance of vampires here just seems so casual. I mean, I know we haven't seen much of it, but it seems too easy, too relaxed.

That being said, this was a fun read, and I loved the background stuff with Xander, Willow, and Centaur!Dawn during Buffy's phone conversation.

Oh, another thing I was uncomfortable with: I assumed that Andrew's Slayer commercial from "The Chain" was a goof, just another bit of the surreal from our man Joss. I never expected it to be an actual television commercial, and I do not buy that it would actually air.

I feel it would be an understatement to say that this issue's handling of Slayer/vampire public awareness is lax.
i haven't read it yet, but is it possible the public aren't shocked because there's some magic going on?
That is a very real possibility. No hints at that so far in the book, though if that's the case, I wouldn't expect there to be just yet.
I liked it for the most part. I think I have to read it again to really absorb it the way I wanted to, because... it's friggin Harmony, how could it not be great? The party scene to the last pages were all very good. It was just the way it started, with Harmony trying to get into the club and the oddly placed internal thought captions that threw me off. I think I'll love it upon the second read, now that I have a grasp on what's going on.
I've added a very special link to the entry.
I don't have my copy yet but I wanted to post this.The problem is that I don't know if it should be added to this thread,be put in the,"Harmony Bites" thread for the myspace tie-in comic or create a new thread.

Harmony does,courtsey of Jane Espenson,a guest blog at MTV Splash page.

http://splashpage.mtv.com/2009/01/07/guest-blog-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-writer-jane-espenson-gets-in-character-for-harmony-bites/#more-7937

ETA

I see Simon added it to this thread.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-01-07 19:21 ]
Aye it seemed to fit in well.
Oh man, that blog was made of awesome.
I'm still confused as to how the public knows about vampires as well. The magic thing occured to me too. Hopefully we get an answer to this by the end of this five-part arc, otherwise it could end up as an example of sloppy writing.
im pretty sure that harmonys agent is the guy we saw working with the general in "the long way home"... so im guessing twilight is behind the whole vampires being outed to the world
So after Buffy's messages of 'we're still the same, just like the high school years' and 'we've got a world to save', we're right back to the main themes of Season 8: connection, power, perception and the subjectivity of reality. Harmonic Divergence does a great job of building on After These Messages by showing how out of touch Buffy is with the outside world ("Right? They can tell who's wearing the white hats") which goes to show that our mindtrip last issue with Buffy was one of self-delusion. Things are just the same as they've always been according to our titular slayer. Well, no. They really aren't, Buffy. Harmonic Divergence blows those messages out of the water.

Buffy changed the world and now it's all different. There's no longer one, but thousands. And unfortunately the ones in charge of recruiting aren't getting the job done. A Hispanic slayer comes into her power, the power that enables her to escape her gang ties and "changes stuff". Plus side. Downside? Andrew and Buffy bungle recruiting her. Actually, it's Buffy who bungles it. The new slayer is "in" after Andrew's speech about destiny and protecting the weak. Then comes the phone call to Buffy with the "crappy connection" (*cough*connection*cough*) where Buffy gives her spiel about "togetherness! unity! sisterhood!" and the new slayer doesn't want to drink the kool-aid. She's heard "those words" before when she joined the Las Cuchillas gang. Buffy's spiel, bad connection notwithstanding, probably didn't ring true for the senorita slayer because Buffy's admittedly having trouble feeling that connection herself ("Connection. Why can't I feel it?" - A Beautiful Sunset). How can she explain something empowering and enlightening that she's not a part of?

The consequences of the Chosen spell crystallize in this one slayer's origin tale. She comes into her power but slips the leash of Buffy's Slayer army. Goes rogue from the establishment. No mentors, no allies, no understanding of her duty beyond this: slayer + stake = dead vampire. The danger of power without understanding its gravity. Not realizing that the fight is conducted in the shadows, not in front of camera crews - all to keep humanity out of the crossfire and not on Anderson Cooper. A PR nightmare waiting to happen when the noob slayer attacks in front of the whole world, outting the slayers and making them "the enemy". The Slayer power is out of control and dividing the protectors (slayers) from those they would protect (humanity). Slayers are "the best villains since Nazis" and the equivalent of an LA gang. The allusions to fascism in The Chain are coming back to haunt us.

Espenson also clarifies one of the ways that potentials post-Chosen who come of age become slayers. Senorita Slayer turns sixteen in this issue and feels the fighty, glowy power. One week later, Andrew comes to recruit her and calls Buffy. This is, at minimum, a year and a half after Chosen and who knows how long into Season 8 but Dawn is a centaur when Buffy tries to welcome Senorita to her 'gang'. So we have a potential who wasn't a slayer til she turned sixteen. This means that there's something about age that matters and that all girls "every girl who could have the power, will have the power" once she comes of age. Buffy became a slayer at 15 so perhaps it's more the case of when the girl is ready, when she's matured to the point of being ready for the power.

We also get our first glimpse of a non-Hell-A in this issue. Harmony's on a roll and the Hollywood system seems untouched in its superficial glory. There's also a none too subtle mocking of reality TV shows - that they're all slaves to their impulses, mindless drones to Harmony's bite only looking to capitalize on the cache of her vampire stardom. No greater philosophical interest in good and evil beyond how they can spin it and make it sell. Reality TV star Harmony is sucking the life out of her fans and they foolishly clamor for more - it makes them "feel weaker, but...that's okay". So clearly, Hollywood is still the same. So what does this mean for the consequences of After the Fall? Has Harmony been in LA the entire time and only Angel's gang were sent to an alternate LA dimension? Is that why the one outside glimpse of LA by the Asylum crew showed it as being business as usual?

Coming back to Harmony, she appears to have been continuing her 'don't kill' policy learned at W&H. Although she's modified it to limiting herself to drinking human blood straight from the source, but from willing victims. As Giles' categorized it in Into the Woods, it's "ambiguous evil" that doesn't require a slayer's full focus. Bigger fish to fry, less ambiguous evil to slay. But Senorita Slayer doesn't know about the gray morality of the underworld. And she's the one who gets caught in the crossfire. Buffy handed her a weapon she wasn't prepared to use and it ended tragically. Hello consequences.
I'm so glad Jane wrote this, she always brings the funny. I particularly loved the way Harmony has no idea about the meaning of any acronyms, and assumes no one else does, either. Also, the panels in which Clem searches for his little duck tattoo amidst the many layers of skin -- priceless.
I enjoyed the jab at MTV and how no one knows what it stands for. Music Television is a complete misnomer nowadays for what MTV has become.
Gaww, sounds dark.

This theme is quite consistent. (Having just rewatched S-5....) Buffy keeps playing for bigger and bigger stakes, not just in the villains she tackles but in every other way, but never really attends to her own shortcomings.

Hmm, I came up with the voluntary no-kill bite as a Harmony tactic in my fic "Because I Can" over 6 years ago; of course Joss and Jane have the built-in defense that they never ever look at those sites and besides I set mine in an alley in Mexico, not on TV, but maybe I should talk to a sharpie about this, might settle my back taxes and have enough left over to get a converter box so I can see Dolllhouse.....

Buffy needs to reconcile with Giles, or make a deal with some Very Much Higher Power to raise Tara or Wesley; she needs a grown-up around since it seems she can only get so old and no older.
Gaww, sounds dark

The issue as a whole couldn't be less dark. It's starring Harmony and the tone matches her world outlook. But the underlying issues are very dark indeed. It's kinda like bubblegum wrapped dark chocolate. You have to wade through the pink mess to get to the rich center.
I just got my copy and really liked the issue.Jane Espenson writes good comic episodes/issues and this was definitely that with a serious underpinning underneath the humor of the issue.

Also,everybody should check out the back of other Dark Horse books.In the back of Dark Horse's Kull #3 that came out today too was a tie-in to issue 21 of Buffy.It was an interview with Harmony as well as smear campaign profiles on Buffy,Faith and Kennedy put out by Harmony and her producers.
Ooh those shrewd marketing people at Dark Horse...now I may have to pick up another DH book!!
I just realized that Harm bagged a Slayer. Who would have thought?

But seriously, I have to say the undertones of this issue were dark as hell, especially when you consider the fact that most of the slayers out there are very much like the unlucky one we see here. MOST don't join the Scooby gang, and have little to no support. This could get really bad if Slayers become a perceived threat. Buffy and hers can take care of themselves, many of these others cannot.
Another thing that was a little confusing.. I thought the Slayer Army was already semi-public knowledge (i.e., the commercial), since Buffy & her cohorts were starting to feel like outcasts. Yet Anderson Cooper has to do 'research' to find out who they are..

And the whole 'Harmony escaping from L.A.' thing...not really buying that. You'd think she'd remember the situation she escaped from and be able to tell people about it. Unless that's another magic thing going on.

[ edited by QuanticoMVP on 2009-01-07 23:39 ]
So, we learned that if you have no training and go to war you can die? Um, didn't we learn that in S7? It's a writing trick to give a face to a character before you, uh, kill them (oh no!), but there are a whole lot of slayers out there with no faces yet. So what does it really mean?
Well, no surprises there.

Unfortunately I didn't really like this issue. It's always great to see harmony, but this kind of plot twist has come up in many many other comics (ahem- X Men anyone?) and it just didn't feel real. Besides, even if Harmony escaped LA unharmed, and she obviously doesn't remember anything about it, you'd think she'd just go back for the movie deals and stardom, and why is Clem here? Hope they explain that. Liked the page with the tattoos, that was nice. Other than that pretty predictable.

I would be fine with it if there was another one next week, but I didn't wait half a month for this. =(
but I didn't wait half a month for this

Versus waiting a month for each issue? Or longer? Two weeks doesn't seem like much of a wait in comparison to past long droughts. We not only had a shorter wait but we got extra pages in tie-in material.
Also kinda lukewarm on the issue, but hey, maybe it's just laying the groundwork for something I'll ultimately like a bit more. Right now, more than anything else, it feels like we've been on an unnecessary digression for the past two issues, especially after the Fray arc – I’m still waiting for some meaty fallout from that.

As far as Harm’s escape, we don’t yet know what she does or doesn’t know. And I’m sure magic is somehow involved in everyone’s acceptance of vamps.

Speaking of, was that Roden at Harm’s party, or just someone who looked a lot like him?

In regard to the slayer commercial, I’ve always taken it as the sort of thing you’d see on TV at 4 am on low-rent cable channels, kind of like the medallion you place under your bed to purge your aura or the book with all those secrets for free money from the government; most people wouldn’t take it seriously in the least.

Does, uh, that mean I should be ordering one of those medallions?
You mean you haven't already? Uh oh. Well, too late now. Best not to think about it. ;)
QuanticoMVP Chris the Bloody RambleOn623 : How dow e know Harmony Escaped from LA? MAybe she just decided once she was fired she ought to try adifferent town, tossed such stuff as she wanted into a treated car, and began driving, and justw asn't there when it NFAed. And ebsides, why talk about it even if she knows?
As to Clem, sure, he seems too nice to assocaite with the likes of her, but he's not after all human. His values may seem nice in S-6-7 but they more probably than not include inexplicable detours to our human attitudes. (Poul Anderson used to be my favorite author, the attitudes rub off.)

Dana5140: Yes, lack of experience when the raw physical power is fairly well-matched is usually, even against the inept, is generally a call to disaster.

Just read the MTV thing; God I love her! From a distance tho, always from a distance.

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2009-01-08 02:17 ]
Oh how can anyone not love Harmony, together with Clem (they have their love of Spike in common! Now, where is Spike?!?!)? I'm very unclear about the time line on this... clearly after Clem escaped Sunnydale and slayers were activated, and after Harmony left Wolfram & Hart, but before Angel sent Hollywood to hell along with the rest of LA (because there was no time lapse between those events)?

But I have to thank Jane Espenson for bringing Harmony & Clem together, and thank Simon for posting the link to that blog!
I love this issue with an unholy passion. Ms. Jane not only gives you a story, she gives you a whole world, complete with elaborately defined social mores and social classes, and as much attention to the background as to the foreground. Deep-focus storytelling, and hilarious! So much detail that it overflows out of the main story into web comics, an MTV blog and something in another Dark Horse comic that they really should put on the web so I don’t have to go out in the rain again. Ever.

ETA Her stories have as much texture as Clem.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-01-08 05:08 ]
I didn't enjoy it at all. I hate reality TV, and now it's been implemented into the Buffyverse, with a lot of bad pop culture references. Also, bringing in real people like Andy Dick and Anderson Cooper doesn't feel right. Very distracting. Was Clem just shoe horned in for the sake of having another Buffy character appear? Very random and out of no where.

I miss the intimacy and small world of Buffy, it's all so big now, with vamps being outed and apparently liked by the public. It's hard to buy for me personally. It's hard to relate anymore.

Big fan of issues 1 through 11, but ever since Wolves at the Gate I haven't been feeling it. After These Messages is also great fun. Not dying to see Satsu and Kennedy next month. There's still moments I enjoy, so I'll stick with it. Just kind of frustrated lately.
Andrew, don't let Buffy talk to the new girls anymore.

I'm getting tired of Buffy not getting it. How long as this been happening? Buffy's needs outweigh whatever else is going on. Giles never got through to her that there are things to consider outside of her vision of events. She takes too much for granted. She decides what the rules are.

I'd like to know how the Slayer Army is going to fix their PR and recruiting machines.
Can't wait to get this!
I am almost positive that the easy acceptance of Vamps and Slayers is part of Twilight's plan and that it is in fact his doing. Before she gets her reality show, it's obvious that Harmony drinks from that guy who was in the first arc who was associated with General Voll, who in turn was associated with Twilight.

Brilliant insights, Emmie.

As for the reality show thing, GhostsWatcher, I feel like reality TV was being mocked as opposed to praised. They also take a shot at MTV, which used to be (as per acronym) "Music Television" but is now overloaded with reality shows. This issue is satirizing current popular culture.

[ edited by Giles_314 on 2009-01-08 03:52 ]
Giles I understand that, but I guess I just don't want to hear about reality TV anywhere even if they are making fun of it. Mocking reality TV isn't anything new. That's what most of this issue was to me with mentions of TMZ, MTV, etc.

I usually love Espenson, and I don't think it was the writing, it was really the ideas that felt disjointed, somewhat forced. I'm looking forward to issues 23 through 25. So bring on March!
I felt that Jane was wasted on this issue. The issue has a lot of stuff that needs to be explained, most of which will presumably be answered in the upcoming few comics. I want to see an Espenson Buffy cartoon comic, personally.
Is this the only issue Jane will be writing? Cause if so then... sadness.

What is the conflict that Scott Allie is suggesting between Satsu and Kennedy?
Jane is writing 26-30.
I THOUGHT that was Voll's civilian assistant or whatever. Muy, muy interesante. Must reread. I really dislike reality shows and people like Andy Dick and I think that's kinda the point. Jane skewers them. Anderson Cooper's spiel is hilarious, too. "Keeping us honest." Yeah, that captures something.

Loved seeing Clem again. Clem!
Oh, Jane--awesome:)

I'm just touching on things I really liked about the issue; I loved the gang girl slayer so much (and am wishing against hope that...ahhhh:(). I also loved the playing up of the vast divide between Buffy and other girls--ie, the class difference and complete lack of understanding, that things like honor are something that comes from privilege and the fact that the isolation of being a Slayer never really goes away--that it is measured in distance over a phone and the assumption that "evil candy" and the band candy reference is going to make sense to this slayer--it's both a hilarious callback to the series and a marker of distance.

(Off topic, I was wondering if the park was the one from Dr. Horrible but there could be a lot of parks in LA that are similar.)

I also liked that we see Harmony as petty and vicious--she is quite funny, but oooh, this reminded me that the Buffyverse vamps do have a mean, mean streak. The Slayer biting scene gave me chills because it was petty, entertaining and awful. I think it worked as did Harmony's frothing at the mouth with excitement over the Slayers as villains. It's suddenly high school again and Harmony's clique gets to win--and suddenly shifts the balance of power in the world with a trivial, silly television show.

This was hilarious and also went to some dark, spooky places. While I have enjoyed the last arc, I think this one is really sticking with me--and for once, I am scared of Harmony (and am happy to see Clem!). Well done!
First, nice to see that LA is physically there, it's not just that people outside it think it's there. Raises questions as to the populace though. Maybe Harm did go to Hell and is also here. So maybe Angel et al are also here...

I keep getting bugged by some pop culture references in S8. I know, stupid complaint. As I recall (and I could be mistaken at this point, been a while.) the beginning of Season 8 was 15 months after S7. That's Sept 2004. So far in Season 8 (going only off memory, should be going to find the issues...) Willow has said "Frak" and Tina Fey, Christian Bale, and Daniel Craig have been referenced. And now TMZ and Anderson Cooper 360.

Frak is a close call, the new Battlestar began in April 2003 as a miniseries, and then Jan 2004 the regular series began. So okay, I buy it.

Christian Bale was big enough to be a sex symbol, and both the films mentioned had come out before then. So okay, I buy it.

Daniel Craig is a difficult rationale, but Buffy had been living in Scotland for a while, so maybe she got more exposure to him than she would have in Sunnydale. So Okay, I buy it.

Tina Fey was on TV, but calling her Television's Tina Fey implies a popularity that I find it hard to believe she had at that point. But maybe... So, Okay, I buy it.

By issue 21, we're certainly into 2005, by how much I do not know. If it follows a standard season, it will end during spring, but who knows. TMZ was not a tv show yet, but fortunately Harmony does not claim it is (it could be inferred, but it doesn't have to be). It certainly wasn't the powerhouse of popularity that it became in 2006, but that kinda helps me buy the premise of the issue more. If Harmony is only being seen initially by only slightly credible and not so popular media then I get that she could be a big fish in a small pond. That extends to ending up on MTV instead of FOX or ABC. So Okay, I buy it.

Anderson Cooper's 360 began in 2003 and got bigger in 2005, and again, as something that is not extremely mainstream it helps lend credibility to her story not being that big. It's not like she was on the Today show. So Okay, I buy it.

Some of these are just so clearly based on what's now (Battlestar, Daniel Craig) though that it still bothers me. Had Season 8 come out at the time, these would not have been the pop culture references. Well, maybe Battlestar. I know this is a ridiculous complaint, and again, I've managed to rationalize all of them, but it irks me some, dangit! And I'm aware Buffy doesn't live in our world and the timeline might fudge a bit from ours to hers. Besides, her own birthday changed in front of our eyes in S1.

Also, I have no problem with the public's seeming lack of reaction to vampires. This is an MTV reality show for chrissakes! The vast majority of the world isn't even aware of it, and most of the people who are aware but don't watch surely think it's BS. Reality is BS anyway. Harmony wasn't joking when she talked about hiring her friends. Actors in Reality TV is nothing new. And then how many people that want to believe in vampires are watching MTV? The goths aren't! I totally buy the seeming lack of public reaction, there's not many people to react. Now, the whole death of a slayer on TV thing, that should change it up a bit. things'll get bigger, and it looks like it'll be not so much in the favor of the slayers.

I enjoyed the issue, I look forward to any more "calm before the storm" issues. Two silly issues in a row. We're being relaxed for the heavy hitting.

Oh, and I wonder if they were filming a movie at the same time at Harmony's party. Cause slates used in Reatlity TV? Not so much! Certainly not chalkboard slates these days, they're all dry erase. Oooh, maybe it was a prop! Speaking of not used in Reality - I'd love to see a guy following around someone all day wearing a glide cam, and someone else lugging around a mirror board on a stand (both in the background when Harmony mentions her crew). Oh shit, I'm being THAT guy!....

Jessica - the park from Dr. Horrible is Echo Park, and yes, the park in this issue certainly resembles it, could be.

[ edited by bobw1o on 2009-01-08 05:25 ]
Not got this yet, although I am a bit concerned about the reality TV format.

But reading everyone's comments - I was under the impression that from the outset of S8 vampires were common knowledge? I'm sure I recall reading that prior to the comics even starting. Is it just me? It's just me, isn't it?
My main question is: Did Dark Horse have to get approvals from Anderson Cooper and Andy Dick? 'Cause if so, they both get points from me for being game.
My first impression is that Jane delivered the best script she possibly could have, given what she had to work with... a premise that requires more suspension of disbelief than the scene in Primeval where Riley pulls the chip out of his chest, an even farther inflation of the already-inflated Buffy universe, and Jeanty's depiction of Harmony, which bears an annoying resemblance to his depiction of Buffy. I'm not sure the issue's season placement was the best, either. (Reality-TV star Harmony coming after time-travel to the future and a goofy trip back to the past? Season 8 seems to have reached the mandatory point where every Buffy season starts to just kind of wander for a while...)

Buuuuuut it's Jane, so, despite all the aforementioned flaws, we're at least guaranteed the funny. I'm a bit pouty that so many of the jokes are cultural references that I can't possibly get, being from a non-English-speaking country, but nevertheless... some genius in there. (Andrew's lecture? Clem's tattoo? The My Little Pony poster? :D)
I'm starting to think that the slayer commercial was somehow mystical, and only slayers can see it. What do you guys think? I REALLY liked this issue. I laughed out loud when I saw the horse jumping after Dawn.
I liked it. I think the drug allusions helped make the whole idea of vampires as underground knowledge make sense, particularly given the Hollywood connection. All the MTV bright young things with their neck bandages probably think Nazis were evil for having bad hair.

I thought drawing Harmony as an airbrushed pumped up Buffy counterpart really worked nicely and the real Buffy’s inability to connect with La Conchilla, the slayer from the wrong side of the tracks, was tragic but inevitable. It brings home how narrowly focused Buffy’s connection to humanity has always been and I’m glad that that’s being made an issue of.

I’ve no idea who Anderson Cooper is but it reads as if Twilight were writing his cue cards. Probably the buzz behind the new bloodsucking craze as well. A devious enemy is a good enemy.
I believe the reason that Harmony was getting low ratings could have been that the audience simply didn't believe she was a real vampire. That changed when they saw her fight and kill the untrained slayer on tv. The big but, is that Harmony had already established herself as a non-threatening individual. If anything, she was just like all the other vapid, but nice people that pop up on the tube and then some crazy girl tried to kill her with a stake through her heart! Harmony's the victim and the Slayers are now the enemy.

Likewise with the commercials, I absolutely think they're real commercials that just play on the tv. They're strange or silly enough to only appeal to their intended audience and simply are ignored (like we ignore all those other commercials that don't interest us) by the mass public. I would guess that the commercial has just enough information to get a slayer in contact or bring them to the attention of Buffy and Co., and not reveal much more about who the Slayers are.

With regard to the issue, I'm kind of mixed. I enjoyed the story of the slayer, and really wish it had been the main focus of the story. The Harmony angle could have been done completely from a background perspective and still successfully (if not more so) conveyed the information it was supposed to.

My main gripe is the Harmony writing. Harmony has shown that she can think in longer sentences and more nuance. She's unfortunately one of those characters in the Buffyverse that is held to certain character traits, that are adhered to at the cost of any character development that may have occurred. Perhaps Epenson did too good a job of presenting Harmony, but I felt my IQ dropping as I read those parts. They seemed to be like short thought processes popping occasionally inside a large echo chamber of a mind.

In the end, I feel like this issue was a missed opportunity that opted for a more glitzy angle over an interesting story about a young woman dealing with gang membership (they just let her go after one whooping? No retaliation?) and new found strength.
I’ve no idea who Anderson Cooper is but it reads as if Twilight were writing his cue cards.

Anderson Cooper is an anchor and journalist for CNN, who will also do pieces for other networks from time to time. He really hit the national awareness (outside of CNN watchers) for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath. He's uniquely identifiable due to having premature gray/white hair.
Harmony looks pretty distinctly different from Buffy to me. The Mercedes McNabb likeness is certainly off, but as I've said long ago, the specific likeness is less important to me as the likeness of the character (which apparently is true of Joss as well, sweet!) and I think Harmony's likeness is captured.

Andy Dick is technically not named, so no need for permission from him, technically. And neither Andy Dick or Anderson Cooper or 360 are referred to negatively. So there should have been no need to get permission from anyone, though I can see them asking the producers at 360. They wouldn't have needed permission for mentioning Tina Fey, Daniel Craig, or Christian Bale either, or for 'showing' the latter two.
I think that was the most satirical issue to date. I'm going to have see how the next few issues play out before I make a call on whether outing the Slayers was a good decision by Joss and co.
There are some wonderfully thoughtful comments in this thread. I'm with those who think that this is not just a funny it's-a-lark issue. Twilight is involved in this confusing of the white hats with dark hats. So is magic. Come on, magic stuff is Jane's thing. As is darkness wrapped in the funny. Emmie, in addition to all your other great insights, you're so right: this is pure Espensonian dark chocolate wrapped in bubble gum. I'm loving it and I'm loving season eight.

I will say that it took me several reads to feel the first few pages as flowy. They still feel a little awkward. At a more meta level, I can't help but be bothered by wondering about Angel's LA-in-hell and where it fits into this. Are the two 'verses now completely separate? I hope not. As TV shows they were their own things but still connected in a way that, to me anyway, enriched both universes and kinda made them one big great sprawling cool-ass BuffyAngelVerse in my mind. I don't want that to be over and done with. Have there been any comments from on high on that?

I'm dying to know if that CAA agent *really* was General Voll's assistant. It sure looks like it but I now doubt myself and my ability to see likenesses after the faux SMG debacle in Dr. Horrible (that extra *still* looks uncannily like SMG to me, damn it, and it drives me crazy that it isn't her. Grrr argh). Maybe Georges just wanted to draw a middle-aged kinda schlumpy dude for the agent and ended up with a resemblance to that Voll assistant. There have been times in Georges's art where characters from some angles look a lot like others he's drawn. I'm not ragging on him here. I really like Georges's contributions to S8.

What's the consensus? Was that CAA guy also General Voll's "suit?"

Edited to add: I don't think - at least I hope - that outing the Slayers will end up as being permanent. I think - hope - that people will revert to their "kids on PCP!" and "neck rupture" (or whatever it was) kind of explanations for the uncanny. Actually, all along the Buffyverse has been kind of vague about how much the "normals" know. Many do seem to be aware of something uncanny going on, but most explain it away. A related (reverse?) tendency can be seen in how real-life "reality show" watchers approach their favorite reality shows. They know that what they're seeing is not "reality" but they sort of pretend it is to play along and enjoy the stories. For this reason it doesn't seem so outlandish that people would accept a vampire reality show. They probably deep down think what they're seeing isn't really "real."

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-01-08 18:16 ]
As to Hell-A, as I've said ti seems those venta are occurring over a few weeks at most, it seems. By this point in S-8, presumably it's evaporated back onto regular Buffy-Earth.

Again I'm remidned of the anti-mutant "Is my neighbor a monster freak?" feelings in late 70s X-Men. It didn't sit right with me then, seemed too much of 50s attiude to ascribe to a 70s public. Likewise the books with titles like writing in an Age of silence and editorial cartoons about evangelists branding school children on t he rump; that version of the Bush 2 Administration, as far as I could tell from the street (literally-I was homeless for about a year of it) existed mainly in Adminsitration rhetoric and in the imaginations of its opponents, not in the vast majority of people's lives. So it seems that Joss is pitching a public atitude I can't quite fathom. Then again, he has his eprspective I've mine.

Bottom line this issue extends the disturbign themes of the season and brings sevetral closer to the surface. And yes, buffy needs perspective; or she needs to ask a major-power-level god if they'd be willing to resurrect Tara or Wesley. She doesn't seem able to grow up; like I'm one to talk at 53 and living on canned soup.

phlebotinin; You're very right; 300 million people in the US alone; the knowledge of the supernatural has to occur in degrees, not a simple In or Out of the Loop. Amy is a great "ensample."
So will Harmony Bites become the bizarro Buffy the Vampire Slayer? A show about a blonde girl who fights, uh, "evil"? If she can be distracted from partying long enough to do so anyway.

Do Slayers ever get vamped? Wouldn't they make pretty powerful vampires? Or is that the reasoning, that a vampire wouldn't want to create a more powerful rival?
Do Slayers ever get vamped?


I think one of the old Dark Horse comic books had this as a plot line. Certainly would have been an aspect I would have liked to have seen explored on the show.
2 questions:

1. Several people above have mentioned that they think magic is behind what happens. On what basis is that claim being made?

2. The advertising for this issue keeps tlaking about changing things in the 'verse forever, which implies that outing the slayers is permanent. Do you agree?

I myself feel that outing them hurts this series rather than helps it. That's a change in dynamics that alters the 'verse profoundly, and brings it more in line with standard comic worlds. I am not for this. And I dislike the reality TV aspect of this. While I have not had an issue for a while I really like a lot, this one rates low for me. Stopgap for the moment, too much hanging and still no answers.
DaddyCatALSO: While the events portrayed within ATF have probably taken only a couple weeks (with the exception of First Night), LA has been hell-bound for significantly longer. Angel explains that he was "out of commission" for a few months, while healing from his multiple injuries. This is when the lords were consolidating their power and Spike:ATF was occurring.

That being said, Season 8 begins about a 1 1/2 years after Season 7. Factor in a year of Angel Season 5 + a few months in Hell, and you have After the Fall ending roughly around the same time as Season 8 begins. Which, yes, does lend itself to a reintegrated LA, if that is indeed what happen(ed)(s).
That's a change in dynamics that alters the 'verse profoundly...

Well, the first line of season 8 is that the funny thing about changing the world is that once you do it the world's all different. Of course, the world wouldn't notice one superpowered girl battling local nasties in an obscure town in California. But much harder to hide 1800 of them, especially when 1300 of them don't have watchers to tell them to keep themselves secret. So I think this is a good direction for the series to go.

I am hoping, however, that we get a bit more explanation about "everyone's curious about us vamps these days." I wonder if it's connected to the events of AtF, or if it's something else. But the line does seem to suggest that there's a concrete explanation for why vampires are suddenly "known".

I thought the Anderson Cooper bit was brutally accurate. And it did make me wonder about permissions. (Is he a good sport? Or did he not see just how brutal it was?)
unDeadhead: (hmm, wonder wherein lies the humor in the name, sicne it's obviously there but I'm not hip enoguh to grasp it) Thanks for that chronology, it boosts what I was saying. Of course, that's only one of several theories I mentioned, which are only 4 among more in fandom. Personally I'd as soon forget about "After the Fall" entirely but Joss has more than hinted we can't.

Maggie Dana5140: I think some type of greater visibility for LSayers en gruppe is a good development but I also hope it doesn't go quite as far as Silver Age comic book conventions.

As to pop culture anachronisms, yes, the B'vere has always ahd those, going back at least to "IOHEFY," maybe "What's My Line" or farther. Perhaps it's not a aprallell world with magic added, but a parallell to a parallell, one which has no big historical or cultural differences but lots of details diverging.
I wonder if True cheesy potential!
Sadly, I’ve got to add myself to those that disliked this issue. The concept of a Harmony reality tv show didn’t appeal, so I went in with low expectations (which usually increases the chances of me liking something that’s ok-ish), but I really didn’t enjoy it at all (except the horse and "I think I fingered a zeitgeist" ;).

Satirising reality tv just seems beneath BtVS, not a worthwhile topic in my book. The accompanying dumbing-down of Harmony (RebelAt described it better), is rather tiresome and just not all that amusing. I wasn’t really feeling the need for any more characters to reappear (Clem with Harmony is a bit of a head-scratcher for me too), but more importantly after last issue’s fun diversion, I agree we could have done with getting back to a more serious tone. Particularly what’s going on with Twilight and Riley (a big reveal then nothing for two issues).

Plot-wise, there was some odd stuff going on - hopefully some of it will make more sense later. Harmony attacks some celebrity in view of the paparazzi with the aim of achieving some fame for herself. I can imagine Harmony thinking that it’s a great plan, but really that’s going to get you arrested, even in the Buffyverse.

The new slayer somehow gets activated in the present. How does that work exactly? Because it’s her sixteenth birthday? Because she needs it (or was it just coincidently at exactly the right moment)? Did another slayer die? Willow’s spell activated all the potentials, including a young girl playing baseball. Babies born after “Chosen” could be potentials (or they could be slayers, just depends how you want Willow’s spell to have worked), but teenagers suddenly becoming slayers is inconsistent with what we’ve seen previously. It seems too obvious to be a mistake, but it’s a weird complication.

Also, I’m not all that keen on introducing and killing characters in one issue – it’s not enough time to develop a character or connect.

The agent does look quite a bit like the “suit” from the first arc, but I’m not convinced. He doesn’t really do anything all that important or alter Harmony's plan. She wants a meeting with a tv company and he sets it up. Any agent could have done that, so unless there’s more to it that we’ve not been shown, I don’t see the point. Of course, Twilight could well be manoeuvring everything from behind the scenes in this and other arcs.

If the main point of the issue was to get us to the public siding against the slayers, then I think it failed in the believability stakes. I’d like to think that the public see Harmony’s show as just a joke and not real, but then why is the issue of the slayers being discussed by Anderson Cooper at the end? If the public and media think vampires aren’t real and Harmony is just pretending (with the aid of special effects), why would they take a threat in a fake reality show seriously?

The only way I can understand it is vampires are known about and have been accepted in some way (“everyone’s curious about us vamps these days”). That would explain the ridiculously relaxed attitude of the MTV staff to a vampire. Of course, this is utterly unbelievable and stupid. MTV is allowed to openly broadcast a vampire sucking humans’ blood and killing someone? And the public would actually be on the side of that vampire? Really? Magic is at least a plausible get out. Though if you have magic that can influence a whole population, why bother with reality tv in the first place?

Oh yeah, I forgot: the security guard at Harmony's party finds the new slayer's stake, takes the stake off her and then lets her in anyway. Well done.

[ edited by NotaViking on 2009-01-09 01:18 ]
Dana5140,

1) If vampires were revealed to exist in our world, we'd round them up and kill them. That's why this development in Buffy doesn't sit right with me, and why I (we?) think magic is involved.

2) A question to be answered with a question: How and when did people learn about slayers? And vampires for that matter? It has never really been explained on-panel.

Perhaps we're just supposed to assume that sometime between the end of season seven and the beginning of season eight it all became public knowledge.
1) The Initiative tried and failed. Now there's another government/military group that appears to be anti-slayer.

2) Anderson Cooper beat up Willie the snitch?
This wasn't a fantastic issue, it felt as if they stretched the topic too much, whilst amusing I'm not sure it justifies an entire comic, though I am enjoying the current light-hearted tone of the comics after Time of your Life.

I do love the fact that Harmony has found her way into the comics, one of the highlights of Angel Season 5 and it's fun to see her reversion back to form as an amoral blood sucker. Here's hoping that she doesn't get slain.
NotaViking; The only ways I see to explain it is that a girl is only empwoered when she becomes "worthy," or that WhiteWillwo's spell only increased the fixed number of Slayers from 1 at a time to however many qualified right then and there and it's still a legacy thing. The second doesn't adequately explain her age,a nd the first idea appeals to me persoanlly but makes the mechanism almost a god-in-itself which joss has never approved.

hacksaway; As a former Defense bureaucrat, trust me on the distinctions ehre; the Initiative was a project. It was closed down; the agency behind it never went away,a nd it won't when Twilight gets his comedownance.

Riker; I agree; the logic of the public knowing all this doesn't flow smoothly.
My point was that the government knows about vampires, etc., yet they do not appear to be doing anything about them. Besides, how are you going to prove someone's a vampire anyway? Tie them up and wait for the sun to come up? Wouldn't that be execution? Is simply being a vampire enough reason for the government to kill its citizens? Yes, I know they're technically dead once they become a vampire, but do you see how it would get really complicated if all this is made public? There'd be a witch hunt and vampire sympathizers. Which is what we're seeing in this issue. The slayers are going to need a better PR person than Buffy.

Also, the Buffy and Equality Now tattoos were a nice touch.

[ edited by hacksaway on 2009-01-09 04:12 ]
I think the viewers of Harmony's show probably aren't even aware she's a real vampire. They probably view her as being some kinda goth chick with fangs. Only, I guess, more glam than goth, obviously. Her fashion sense and ditzy party attitude is what endears her to her audience. And the fact that she bites and only partialy drains her willing costars makes her seem like a hip, exciting person to be around. The perfect girl for an edgey show to revolve around.

Of course, this isn't a true depiction of a vampire's lifestyle. In the Buffy-verse most of the Vampires we have seen are coldblooded, soulless killers, plain and simple. But Harmony's audience isn't privy to that knowledge. They only see what they are being fed by MTV. The network has sensationalized vampires. Even when Harmony murders the Slayer, it is shown in an erotic context. It came off almost as though the two were making out, rather than the horrid act that it truly was. Like many things on television, the scene was diluted. There wasn't even any clear evidence that indicates the audience knew exactly what was going on: that a demon just drained the life out of a young girl. Only those in the know, like Buffy and co., would then be horrified by witnesssing such an act.

And the info given to the public concerning slayers is scant at best. Slayers are defined by the media as being bigger than the Nazis. A viewer swayed by such propaganda is likely led to believe that slayers are simply people oppposed to the type of lifestyles people like Harmony want to live. PEOPLE like Harmony, not demons, because that truth is left out of her show.

Much like an ignorant person would buy into the accusations of Barack Obama being associated with terrorists without any concrete proof, the viewers of Harmony Bites will likely believe all the deragatory things said of slayers. The majority of that demographic isn't a threat, but Buffy might have to contend with fanatics that take the media's misinformed diatribes to heart.

It's a bad time to be a good guy....again.
Loved the issue. :)

[ edited by jay swif on 2009-01-09 08:44 ]
I have say the bizarrest moment I've had this week was Harmony befriending Whedonesque on MySpace. That was just odd to say the least. My fourth wall came crashing down.
I think it's totally plausible that Willow's spell continues to empower girls on an ongoing basis. No one so far has protested that there are no baby slayers, but are we supposed to believe that there would be no potentials in the next generation? To the contrary, "Potential Slayer" status seems to be activated when a girl is ready. Much like puberty, the exact age won't be the same for all girls, with some becoming ready earlier (the softball girl), and some later in life.

At least that's what I get from this.
Boy, there is an awful lot of "I thinks" in these posts. And no way do I think this is a good thing; it means we have not even a shred of context to understand what has happened. Riker's response to my question was "If vampires were revealed to exist in our world, we'd round them up and kill them. That's why this development in Buffy doesn't sit right with me, and why I (we?) think magic is involved." Or, to paraphrase, we don't really know, so magic is as good an answer as any- see, there is no proof that magic is involved, right?
Well Dana5140, I think (that word again, but it's all I have to offer) there must be an assumption that magic is involved because it seems to me that from Angel's POV Los Angeles is currently in Hell thanks to Wolfram & Hart, but somehow Harmony & Clem are NOT in hell, they are connected to a LA based studio which is happy to work openly with a vampire who bites people on air....
So the only way the two worlds can exist (much less co-exist) is by magic.
That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.
Dana, there's no reason to NOT believe there's magic involved either. So my point isn't moot. You can't just blindly believe magic isn't involved when it hasn't been confirmed that it's not.
Ultimately I'd say that the issue, by itself, just doesn't make sense. So all we have is our theories, all of which have holes in them or aren't back-up by any evidence. I'd like to say that I trust the writers to sort it all out in a marvellously clever way, but the situation seems so confusing and implausible that really I'm just hoping for something that's fairly satisfactory. I know people will say that it's only the start of the arc and we shouldn't understand everything yet, but the last arc ended without addressing fundamental questions about Future Dark Willow.

One other thing I meant to post before. As Andrew, the slayers behind him, Buffy, Dawn and Xander all appear horrified at the slayer being killed by Harmony, Willow is blithely commenting on ratings and downloads. It might fit in with the MTV guy’s dialogue, but that’s not clever when it’s so inappropriate and wrong for Willow.
That's silly, both of you, which I say with love, not anger. :-) embers, in order for me to understand your comment, I'd actually have to have knowledge of what has been happening in LA with Angel, which I do not. Now, substitute a new reader to the comic for me, a reader who knows absolutely nothing about Angel at all, and how could they ever know what that might mean? So I cannot really accept that the goings on in Angel are a major player in the relatively unrelated Buffy comic.

As to riker's comment, what can I say? I can't blindly believe it is due to the flying spaghetti monster either, since it has not been confirmed either. But realistically, my point is, where's the data? What proof can you offer? Not address it it with a negative, because that means little and casts no light. ETA: riker, just to be clear, I am not saying magic cannot be involved. It very well could be. I am simply saying there nothing to support that it is. There is no evidence.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-01-09 18:38 ]
But Dana, following that logic, there's nothing to support that it ISN'T involved either.

Frankly, we need concrete answers from TPTB to clear up the confusion and hopefully we'll have them by issue 25.
Enjoyed the issue on its own merits, but, like many, am troubled by the whole "outing" the vamps and slayers theme.

My problem is more because I think you can push a fictional 'verse too far. You can force the boundaries in ways that kills the mystery of thinking about the 'verse and that pushes internal credibility of the story. Vamp-wise, I think Ann Rice is a good example: the book that got her attention (Interview) was very intimate/secret in its world, but she, as an author sooooo wanted to make her vamps into a public phenomenon, and that is what made her books turn ridiculous for me and, I believe, for a lot of others.

That's not to say that I don't see the appeal of the thematic issues Joss et. al. are going for. Not only do we have a "reality tv" culture that tolerates increasingly bizarre/awful behaviour, we also have a public vampire zeitgeist thing going on that the writers could not have predicted, given the "Twilight" (coincidence?) movie craze and the "True Blood" storyline of outed vamps. And, as others above have mentioned, the argument could be made that it is equally "unrealistic" NOT to show rising public knowledge of vamps/slayers, given the events of "chosen." I guess I just hope that, at the resolution, our heroes and villians can return to the shadows again. This should be possible. Not only do we have the past "gangs on PCP" tendency to denial in the buffyverse, we also have things like the "smile time" plots on angel that specifically reference mystico-scientific mind control through the tee-vee, so the end of the Season 8 storyline should be able to get away from this icky overly-public vamp/slayer existence.

Parting shots:

-if Season 8 is the storyline that resolves the dilemma between many slayers now/no slayers by the time of Fray's calling, this could be related to the "public" thing. I assume it will be involved with this, given that we already have, in the last arc, and Willow's behavior, suggestions that the removal of most magic from the scene is a possibility.

-I have no trouble believing that Andrew's ads are unrecognized/unnoticed by those to whom they would mean nothing. More curious to me: how does Andrew find this new slayer?

-I have no trouble assuming that Harmony's audience is small and only partially believing in her vampitude until something shocking like the slayer fight and death occurs. That part of the "reality" doesn't overly stretch my imagination.

-props to DaddyCatALSO for the reminder that just because Clem is a sweetheart doesn't mean he has quite the maturity of moral sense that might lead him to not hang with harmony. If anything, his ability to like people is his defining quality. um, other than the whole saggy-skin thing. But if kittens are delicious, wouldn't Pomeranians be tempting treats for him?
This one really displayed the wit of Georges Jeanty's art. The Pomeranians were hysterical, yet satanic.
Right, no proof. Joss seems to love leaving any number of things open to wanking like this, as another example, after "The Body," just how close had or hadn't been Joyce to Buffy 's friends as people rather than as her daughter's entourage.

If the audience (in this fragmented, niche-programming age, a smallish one, as all audiences are now) for Harmony's show doesn't realize she's real, maybe they don't realize that Slayer was a "civilian" who actually died rather than an actress playing a "part" anyway.

I'm thinking again about the characterization of Harmony (going by what's been said here; I should get my copy tonight) it might be a nod (or dig*) directed at Mercedes. She's known to (correctly so, in a business that runs on self-promotion) to riff in interviews about her somewhat "specialized" on-screen image and constantly sell herself as good at playing the outwardly glam but inwardly trashy blonde who almost makes it to the last reeel. Perhaps this is Jane's and Joss's view of how Harmony would do the same thing.

(*dig; Mercedes in her _Angel_ stint, was openly politicking in itnerviews and such to get a mroe expanded Mata Hari -ish role. actors aren't really supposed to do that and writers rpesumably get their backs up about it. The _Angel_ staff writers worked for Joss and Jane is presumably a friend of theirs.

Seems a lot of us agree, despite coming from very varied eprsepctives, value systems, and esthetics, that this aprticualr change in his 'verse may backfire on Joss. I hoenstly hope we including I are wrong.

unDeadhead : I love when anybody agrees with me. It's a symptom of egotism.

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2009-01-09 21:32 ]
Personally I'm going to stick my fingers in my ears, go "lalala" to all the criticism and assume that everything will pay off in the end. That's not to say that there haven't been valid points raised; I just remember having similar discussions with my friends while watching season 5 (Why are Ben and Glory always in the same room? Are they dating? Why won't they explain this?!?) which were eventually spelt out for us.

Like doubtful guest, I do wonder if this issue is a reaction to the popularity of the Twilight series* and True Blood and given a Jossian twist to work it into the overall story arc. This issue left me curious as to how things will pay off, but not exactly counting down the days 'til the next issue.

(*Something that's been nagging me. Could someone Stateside confirm whether Twilight the series getting big happened early enough in the season 8 development process to blip on Joss's radar? I'm wondering if the Big Bad was so named for a promotional payoff down the line - think of the reaction a "Buffy vs Twilight" headline would get - or whether it's all one big coincidence.)
Well, I think that Jane Espenson's comments in her interview that posted today are to the point on this. She implies that this "outing" is going to part of the main storyline. She also argues that she included Clem to show a demon who was not an evil demon- her words, that it was not a genetic predisposition to evil for all demons.

To quote from that interview:
JE: It was a little like the TV show in that you were often assigned a story that way: “this week you’re writing the next one, and it’s about this.” That was often how the shows were assigned, but the shows was broken as a group, with Joss leading it. So often, every important beat in the story came from Joss’ brain and was dictated specifically, which is what gave that show that beautiful uniformity of vision.

But the comics – I was given a lot more individual freedom. I was told: Harmony has a reality show, the point of this issue is that we see public opinion about Slayers and demons turn. It’s the start of a turn where humanity no longer sees Slayers as necessarily the good guys and vampires as the bad guys. That’s pretty much what I was given, and I was very much given the freedom to come up with all the details to come up with the details of Harmony’s life, her show, how it would all lay out – very much on my own. I think if I had done stuff Joss didn’t like, he would have stepped in and given more explicit notes, but he really never did – this was very much out of my head, other than the main concept, and I’m really, really proud of it because of that. There are a lot of choices in there that I got to make on my own that I think turned out well.

NRAMA: Was the new Slayer in the issue your creation as well?

JE: Yes – the idea of picking a specific Slayer and her background, that was form me.

NRAMA: I thought it was interesting to see in the story that you were “selling” the idea that the Slayers weren’t necessarily the good guys, because from the new Slayer’s point of view, this group wanted to control her in much the same way her former gang did...

JE: Yeah – I like when both sides have a valid case. It’s always struck me that the point of slaying is to even the balance between the dark and the light – it’s not to wipe out the darkness. So you already – given that, you have justification for some ambivalence about the role of the Slayers. Then if you start going into “how dark is the darkness?” – I was happy to bring back Clem, because he was a demon that we met before, and we know that he’s not evil, although you could probably make a case that the eating kittens thing is a little bit evil. Maybe that’s all he digests though...but how evil is evil? Does it mean that you’re evil if you just genetically happen to be a demon? That’s never been established as true – there are demons who are not so evil. And this organization that’s taken it upon themselves to decide what’s best for humanity...

You can see how a case could be made that the Slayer organization is shady and shadowy and suspect, and could easily be up to no good. And I like that – it’s not that humanity’s being duped. There are arguments to be had.
I am still inclined to think that Twilight is DIRECTLY behind the outing of Slayers and Vampires, and that it is a major part of his overall plan of badassery. Whether magic is involved, I have no idea. But that suit that Harmony drinks from is definitely that guy from the first arc. It is a very specific design (pudgy, curly straw colored hair, weepy eyes), and I extremely doubt that Jeanty would draw a guy just like a guy who was modestly important in an earlier issue.
Major, major mythology issue. It's a bit unclear on what is going on with the public here. But anyway, it continues the outing of the supernatural to mankind that began, really, with Angel season four. I think this one will gain in stature when we see more where it's going.

The alternate cover (the Jeanty one, not the Jo Chen one) is a bit of a spoiler for the issue, mainly the "Why slayers hate America" line, implying (beforehand) what is going on.

Is the sisterhood harm's slayee belonged to (Las Tuchillas) a real group?

Love the horse joke. Pure Jane. (Reminds me of The Perry Bible Fellowship, with three simple panels telling a purely visual joke.)
The Horse Joke. I feel like I missed something. I see the three panels, but I don't really understand what is happening. Am I really stupid? Am I making it too complicated? I laughed when the horse charged at them, is that all there is to it? Or am I supposed to know why the horse charged?
Hehe, shall we say that the horse wants to make friends with Dawn ;).
Oh. Hehe, I get it. I thought it had something to do with a spell Willow was casting. She had that book, and I assumed the horse was something she did.

Awesome.
Annie, I don't know where you are, but if you're reading this, I completely agreed with your comments in the lettercol this month. It's strange when the only defense they seem to have is "but this is good, FOR COMICS" - since when do we Buffy fans grade on a curve?

"Curve" being admittedly a tongue-in-cheek word choice here...
I wish we could see Harmony's TWLIGHT tatoo, the bandaid looked like it was bleeding colorful ink, so maybe she up the mark and added color, how clever! Love conflict.. Spike + Harmony + Buffy, and Buffy + Willow + Satsu + Kennedy, and fustrated Xander... poor guy probaly going to turn gainst Buffy and become a vilian, and run off with Dawn, who will in turn become some badass lady on her third transformation, cant wait for that. Whats going on with Fray, more spin offs please....
I don't think it's odd that people find it easy to digest the fact that there's vampires. I think I'd find it harder to believe they didn't after the Tokyo street war in 'Wolves At The Gate.' I barley believed the idea that people suppress what they see in Sunnydale, and on this global scale I really don't see it as an option. The battles have gotten bigger and bigger over the series, at some point it becomes inevitable that they have to make the story take such a turn.

What I initially found hard to handle was that people would be ok about Harmony killing a girl on TV. Then I re-read it, realised that it was so very easy to manipulate the situation so that Harmony looks like the innocent one as the mean old slayer attacks her. And then some posters on Buffyforums reminded me of the state of the world at the moment and why yes; unfortunately it’s totally believe-able the world would watch something like this and call it entertainment.

Harm’s the new Drac in this issue and it’s typical of our world to react to a vampire in this way, especially when it’s through the lens of a reality TV show. Non surprisingly, Harmony doesn’t think about the consequences, “suddenly his story gets out and everybody know hows to kill us- the mirror bit” and really, it’s worked wonders for her. I do think Twilight has something to do with this, as if he wouldn’t? It fits in perfectly with what he’s playing at now, and ever since ‘The Long Way Home’ it was obvious the slayers were going to become public enemy number one, “you’re at war with the human race.”

A solid issue.
I'm wondering if Joss on purposely named Buffy's nemesis Twilight, because of the popular book and movie that is making teen aged girls everywhere think that Vampires are cute and cuddly (and therefore the slayers who kill them must be violent aggressive bad guys). This could be the key to the reversal of the public's view of Vampires and Slayers!
Haha, embers, Joss said he hadn't even heard of Twilight until after S8 started.
Regarding characterization of Harmony (and some earlier discussions of characterization of Buffy as maybe more goofy/whatever than her character development by end of season 7 would suggest), this is one thing I really regret about the comic books...Even the best of artistry and writing shows us a very limited number of frames, so much tougher to show the play of several feelings or "beats" of emotion that allow even a season 7 character (or season 5 "Angel" character in Harmony's case) to be funny without surrendering the maturity or pathos or (etc) that their character has earned over time. Add to this fewer words/character interactions per scene and a schedule built around (generally) one month gaps rather than 1-2 week gaps and you get a certain simplification that is unfortunate. Oddly, I think this may be why comics are good at producing the severe brooders like Batman etc. -- if you are going to have to simplify the panel-to-panel mood palette, you can get a lot of milage out of one or two cool broody panels of the hero on the rooftop as opposed to the odd balance we expect of a show that was always known for its ability to put comedy and tragedy in one pot. I may be in for some righteous objection here, but I truly do not feel that a comic book could pull off a comico-tragico wonder like "tabula rasa" or a complicated multi-thread interplay like Ms. Espenson's own "conversations with dead people." A durn shame. Oh well, we takes what we can gets.
I'm sure everyone had said everything that has to be said. I have to say though in regards to the Slayer Commercial that most people wouldn't really take notice or even care - some might think that its one of those 'gotcha' commercials that real product will be revealed later. Regarding the Reality vamp show, I think in the beginning it wasn't a big deal 'cause no one really takes most reality shows seriously. Even the most obsessed viewers know that reality shows are greatly scripted.

I do though have iffy feeling that I’ve had for a while now since I first heard about the “Outing” -- it reminds me of how I felt when Gargoyles were “outed”. It always makes me stop and think and then quickly get wistful of the anonymity feel that is lost when your ‘secret club’ is no longer secret. Who wants to join? Who is scared of the exclusiveness? Who feels threatened? And who just wants to take you out ‘cause you don’t fit anymore?

Big YAY for Clem! I hope he leaves Harm's possy and joins the real white hats. And, Harmony better spoil us some LA scoop, damn it!
This issue? AWESOME! I'm so glad we're getting to the main storyline of the season. I can't wait to read more.
This actually turned out to be one of my favourite issues in a while. Loved the attention spent on Andrew and the gangland slayer, and a nice peek at how Andrew fits in with the scoobies this season. I liked the issue's framing device and Harmony's narration. One of the nicest character touches was the fact that she has seperate binders for Elle/Cosmo/etc. You just know she subscribes. Second solid issue in a row for me, after my reservations over the last two arcs. Well done Jane and Georges! (Also: Clem!)
Re: the Slayer commercial, I think most of us tune out commercials unless they're about something we want or are already interested in. The Slayer commercial might pique my curiosity for about thirty seconds or so, but as a non-Slayer, I'd end up dismssing it and going about my day.
This is a great issue. It has so many layers, fun moments and references, and yet the greatest implications for Buffy's world to date.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-01-11 02:13 ]
Some of us don't even watch live TV, we fast-forward through our PVR'd shows. They're missing all the Slayers with Tivo. Maybe they have banner ads online too.

Buffy must be burning through that fortune pretty quickly though if they're continually airing that commercial in various, perhaps even in various markets. Unless she's a lot richer and has more mysterious benefactors than I've guessed.

I really hope Joss addresses how Slayers are activated and how Andrew (and before him, the Watchers' Council) finds them. Some sort of spell or compass (although if all the Watchers had a compass, we would've seen Giles or Wesley pull one out of their pockets over 12 seasons of Buffyverse), or a reliable race of fortune teller demons or something.

The finding-the-slayers thing isn't a huge deal, it's never been detailed enough or contradicted so there's really no issue there, I'm just curious about it.

Unfortunately, this issue makes the whole Potentials/Slayers/Willow's "Chosen" Spell thing make not a lick of sense given what information we've been given so far. It can't be an age thing if this girl turned 16 and "inherited", when we saw in the show that Buffy was 15. Also, presumably, little baseball player potential got the strength/confidence, the show clearly presented her clip to us that way, and the girl getting beat on in that "Chosen" montage looked young too. I don't know if it works explaining it away that they obtain the power when they're "worthy" (ditz Buffy at Hemory High was worthy?) or "when the time is right". The series usually presented the power as something that Buffy had been burdened with. It's much more effective a plot point if the slayer force or whatever is just something that happens and they're randomly born into, no grand cosmic morality behind it, just as those shamans forced it on the First Slayer. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I'm not frustrated, answers may be forthcoming, I gladly take the wait-and-see approach. I really liked the Latina gang slayer's short part in the story. The whole thing about outing slayers, vampires, and possibly other paranormal/supernatural aspects of the world to the general human population...it all may or may not turn out to be adequately explored in this comic (I will always keep in mind that Joss' priority is character over a thorough explanation of his mythology, much as I wish there were more of a balance. Buffyverse is fine for now, but if it falls apart/doesn't make sense, it will get frustrating and distract from the themes and character development). Regardless of how well they pull it off, this is absolutely the way their world was headed. I forget, did we get an explanation of how LA dealt with the rain-of-fire and the Jasmine aftermath ? Angel Investigations remembered their time under Jasmine's influence after coming out of it, so wouldn't the rest of the city ? The students of Sunnydale High know what they saw, no way could they repress the Mayor-Snake. They just all simply may've come to some quiet understanding or something of the weirdness of their town and lived with it, perhaps as seen through Jonathan. And then of course we had The Initiative. It would've been irresponsible of the writers to not address the awareness issue. I don't want them to ignore these big events and revelations just because it's a fantasy series and just because so many viewers are all nostalgic for the secretive scooby gang in the library or Magic Box.

Despite the dark underlying themes, this was a painfully goofy issue (I like the occasional goofy ep/issue when it's well done, like "Smile Time" or one of the more comedic eps of Buffy). I don't mind touching on reality-TV, it just felt off to me. The best thing about it was giving some teeth back to Harmony (although her betraying Angel in Season 5 helped) and that chilling scene at the end with her feeding off the slayer. Whether through planning, stupidity, or a bit of both combined with some very lucky opportunism, she's just done some major damage. I hope she gets staked good or set on fire or something before the end of Season 8, she's survived too long. Who would it be most funny or poignant to have perform that slaying ? Buffy or Willow ?

[ edited by Kris on 2009-01-12 01:09 ]
I found the first few pages of this issue to be pretty confusing really. I didn't twig that it was Harmony's voiceover until quite late and the whole bit with the random man who may or may not have been in the previous issues just left me with a 'what just happened' feeling.

Also I didn't really get most of the pop culture references being that I'm British and barely watch television or pay attention to the American media. I spent ages trying to figure out what TMZ meant only to learn today that I needn't have bothered.

Am I alone in not being a big fan of Harmony? I didn't really like her when she was human, I liked her even less when she was a vampire in Buffy, and only liked her slightly better than that on Angel and now, meh, I just don't care about her. I don't find her funny or endearing. I would rather have spent more time with the scoobs because it feels like forever since we have.

Basically I'm waiting for the next arc to start because the last two one shots have left me cold.
Reaction, finally? Well, in Harmony's defense she just raised the stake, Soledad impaled herself on it while charging, and was presumably dead or dying when Harm bit her.

Beyond that,I think I see why Joss keeps killing the people I actually like. For is storylines to work how he wants them to, he has to keep the main characters partially infantilized in several crucial dimensions. Thus, bank robbing, "staffing screw-ups," bad public relations, etc. If they had , oh, say Anya running the Exchequer, Cordelia handling public realtions, and Tara supervising eprsonnell and recruitment, SLayer Central would be working just too darn well for Joss 's purposes and dolphins. Ergo, they can't be there.

ETA Kris: Well, yeah, Ican se the problem with buffy beign "worthy" at Hemery but given the inconsistency of the "age alone" expalantion as is now canon, it's about all that's left. The "Force Behind the Slayer Legacy" can somehow tell the moment ina Potential's life when she truly worthy "deep isnide,"r egardless of ehr circumstances,a nd so activates then. Sounds worse the more I explain it but it's about all that's left..
As for finding Potentials, I'd always guessed the COuncil had a Psychic Division witha basement office where they sat with crystal balls, tarot cards, pendulums, magic globes, bowls of alphabet soup etc. and waited for names and locations to come up. Maybe some, but not most, of the psychics were also trained Watchers and/or field ops.

Kris, digupherbones ; If the supernatural ecology only allows for "X" number of vmapires at any one time, and for all we know it does, staking Harmony would open up a spot for a more dangerous one . . . he says in a desperate attempt to at least help keep his second favorite character alive since his first and third faves (Tara and Jonathan) aren't anymore.
If it comes to that, it might be a good idea to get her a blood transfusion from a Mohra demon.

I still want to know what Harmony 's family thinks of all this.

And I still want to know, well, I thinkas of now my ficverse has branched off compeltely from canon, since we're already probably in 2005. would I be giving the publisher and Joss my money under false pretenses and thus offending their artistic integrity if I continue to buy the magazine?

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2009-01-12 23:29 ]
I loved this issue, and reading your many, many comments here - or starting to read them at least!

I'm just adding some love for Jo Chen's cover for the next issue. I like seeing her paint Satsu and Kennedy looks great.
On the issue of when a slayer is "called" or whatever...seems to me that, in addition to whatever else marks a girl as slayer material, the actual activation does depend upon an physical/emotional/mental situation that the girl goes through that, to borrow from the sports team metaphors, "puts her in the zone" and causes the mystical calling to happen. Doesn't have to be at a specific age or in relation to any particular hormonal events or such, though I would suspec that the (again) physical/emotional/mental qualities she brings to bear imply some level of emerging maturity that would mean sometime early teen years is the likely timing of emergence, though the exact age at which a given potential (a) has a certain level of maturity in these categories and (b) has a triggering event that coalesces the whole jello of slayerhood will vary. That softball-playing girl in chosen might be the early side of the curve, but, hey, softball can be intense! Interesting to imagine a slayer who, for whatever benign or horrible reasons, doesn't get a chance to mature in all these categories until much later (feral child? trauma victim?), so manifest in her 30's or later.
...Just finished reading all of them. Great chat guys!
DaddyCatALSO:
And I still want to know, well, I thinkas of now my ficverse has branched off compeltely from canon, since we're already probably in 2005. would I be giving the publisher and Joss my money under false pretenses and thus offending their artistic integrity if I continue to buy the magazine?

I'd answer that, but - and don't take this the wrong way - but I still haven't figured out what your ficverse has to do with anyone else's artistic integrity... :-)
Rowan Hawthorn; well, since I'll no longer be taking inspiration from what I'll be reading, am I insulting them by giving them my money?

ETA doubtfulguest : Sounds about the size of it. It even seems logical pre-"Chosen" as Faith and less obviously Kendra were both written as older than Buffy

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2009-01-13 16:29 ]
DCA - I don't really see why they'd be insulted by that, but, um... if they are, I'll take it (hey, a buck's a buck... ;-))

[ edited by Rowan Hawthorn on 2009-01-14 04:40 ]
I think it makes the most sense that slayer activation is tied to puberty - maybe even to something as simple as getting your period. Blunt, but there it is - no necessary ties to a specific age, but to a physical maturity level. Before "Chosen," this would have been when Potential status kicked in, and now it's when you become activated as a slayer.
how did Harmony get out of Hell.A?
did the Senior Partners give her a get out of Hell.A free card?
does she know Spike and Angel are in Hell.A?
TOO MANY QUESTIONS .... ANSWERS NOW JOSS!! ;-) hehe
ok well maybe not now, but hopefully by the end of the season
I really liked this issue, but it's really sad that the slayer had to die. She got that tattoo covered up for nothing... :'( Also Harmony now has street cred! She killed a slayer! bam! :D
As I mentioned in the Jane interview thread (I think that was the one), a lot of girls are getting periods earlier these days. So, the age range is pretty spread out. It's also possible that a girl wouldn't realize her new strength for a while. Judging ages by looking at people can be difficult because there are 12-year-olds who look like they're 20 and vice versa. It becomes even more complicated in TV and movies, where young adults are often cast to play teenagers.

I loved all the episodes with the vampire Harmony, and so, I was glad to see her come back in this issue.

I was glad that Annie raised issues on how women are depicted, that Sierra responded and that Scott was willing to publish this. I think this discussion is healthy. Obviously, it's possible to draw comics without exaggerating figures.
Well, TFAW finally delivered my copy. I guess this discussion's pretty much over, though. Still, I wanted to address a couple of things in the comments.

1/ I just don't buy that we're meant to "recognize" a minor character from the early episodes purely from the way he's drawn. If the General's flunky and the CSA guy turn out to be the same guy I'll just think they screwed up making that connection in this issue.

2/ I'm always fascinated by the Buffy-hate. "If only Giles was around, he'd have been able to recruit that slayer. Why does Buffy screw everything up??" Oh, sure. Giles always knew exactly how to talk to new young slayers. And there's no possible way that a young Latina gang-refugee wouldn't have thought "hey, this guy just gets me" if speaking to Oxbridge-tea-and-crumpets Giles.

Of course I could be wrong. I'd love to hear all of you suggest how you'd go about talking to a 16 year old girl who's just fought her way out of a street gang and persuading her to join your much larger gang of superbeings. I'm sure it's an easy thing to do and that Buffy's mistakes were self-evident.

3/ Someone up thread mentioned colors bleeding out from a bandaid over a Twilight tatoo on Harmony's arm. Did any one else see that in their issue, and if so, where does it appear? I'm wondering if there are different versions of this thing. Or is it on an alternate cover or something?

4/ Several people asked how Andrew found the new Slayer. We already know from S7 that "seers" in contact with Giles (and, later, Buffy) were able to locate Potentials. It would make sense that they do the same with Slayers.

FWIW: I just hated this issue. The writing seemed flat. The storytelling was unbelievably plodding (no attempt to use the medium at all--not a single moment of interesting juxtapositions of images or using the images to tell the story in other than obvious "and then this happened" ways). Others have pointed out how deeply implausible the story is. Of course we may get a reveal that explains how it's all "magic"--but as someone else said, if you have those kinds of magic powers, what need to you really have of Harmony's stupid TV show?

It all just felt painfully forced. They had the "neat idea" of a satire on reality TV based around Harmony, but they just couldn't find a way to meaningfully integrate that either into the plot of the show OR into the established reality of the Buffyverse. And in the end it really says nothing interesting about reality TV, either. Does anybody really need to be told that reality TV is vapid?

Even the one useful piece of "moving the plot along" that this issue does (getting us back to the point that the Slayers aren't necessarily going to be read as 'white hats' and that humans might be troubled by a shadowy organization of superbeings) is actually just getting us back to where we were in issue #4. O.K., O.K., we get it. Power corrupts, what raises you "above" humanity may also make you "inhuman"--we've been there and done that with Faith, of course, but there's no reason not to revisit the theme with the Slayer Army. But could we get on with that damn story, already?
Oh, one other comment: I noticed a lot of close reading of the line about there being lots of interest in vampires these days, but doesn't that just refer to their place in pop culture: Twilight et al.?
I think the guy Harmony met with is indeed the guy from earlier issues. It makes sense. This season seems to be all about the fight going global in scale. Twilight's got people all over the place.
It makes sense.

How? I mean she seeks him out, and all he does is do what he asks of her. I'm struggling to see how Twilight could "engineer" this. They have agents in every talent agency in town just lurking in doorways waiting for Harmony to show up?

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