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April 01 2009

(SPOILER) For the discussion of Buffy #24. Titled 'Safe', this issue is written by Jim Krueger (Earth X, Justice) and is set around a special partnership.

My copy just shipped today. I'm really looking forward to reading it. I've really missed Giles :(
I have no idea who Andy Owens is, but I love this issue.
Isn't Andy Owens the main inker of the series? He inked Fray as well.
Oops. I mean I have no idea who Jim Krueger is, but I love this issue. Heh.

ETA: He has a web site.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-04-01 18:22 ]
Yep, Andy Owens is an inker. He's been with the franchise for a while. Possibly even before Fray ? I forget. He might've been inking Cliff Richards' stuff on non-continuity, pre-Season 8 Buffy from Dark Horse years ago, but don't quote me on that.

Even though my comic shop sometimes doesn't get their shipment until late in the day Wednesday (if not Thursday) and comic shop guy hasn't sorted through it and doesn't always like to go through the box to hand out the recent stuff the night of shipment, I'm gonna call ahead and see if I can get it tonight anyway. Wouldn't mind participating in a Season 8 discussion the day of, for once.
I enjoyed this issue. Having Faith and Giles back was great! Hopefully we won't have to wait quite as long this time before they'll be back.
On second look, it's really well-inked, too. Expert use of shadow and darkness, IMHO.
There was an enjoyably old-school "somewhere in middle Europe" almost-Nosferatu-like vibe about the setting and story that made this issue quite appealing. Also, we learn that Giles is not the only surviving member of the Council, and that his lone colleague bears a strong resemblance to Buffy's first watcher (the TV show version, not Donald Sutherland).
I have my copy of Season 8 #24 now(as well as Angel:Blood And Trenches #2) and so far it's my favorite of this arc.Loved Giles in it and loved Faith too.Especially enjoyed seeing a flashback to Faith's first slays from before she was introduced in Faith Hope and Trick.It's sort of fitting we get this flashback given the new issue of Angel:Blood And Trenches(although said Blood And Trenches character isn't in this).

This issue makes me want a Faith/Giles miniseries at some point even more now.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-04-01 20:31 ]
This was the best issue in a good while, easily the best since the end of "Time Of Your Life" and arguably the best since "Wolves at the Gate".

When we find Giles and Faith (who, as an aside, thankfully exude all the romantic tension of Detectives Munch and Finn on "Law & Order: SVU"), they are doing exactly the job we thought -- patrolling the night to help Slayers get a handle on what they're doing. Somewhat surprisingly, though, the first measure we see them apply to whether or not a Slayer is troubled is the fact that she ran out on her squad. That's a perfectly legitimate measure of someone being unhappy, but it's not a promising start for people who were hoping this subplot would somehow be a total condemnation of Buffy and her choices and her leadership. Giles and Faith (rightfully) understand that the "choice to be chosen" as their charge, Courtney, never Coco, refers to it, is by definition going to be reflected in one's choice to be involved with Buffy's deal or not.

Faith's journey through this issue is very awesome, and for the second time, we get very informative flashbacks about her -- this time, her "first time", the first vampires she killed. One of them got away. From her very first night on the job, Faith's pattern of believing she falls short of what she should be.

The Slayer Sanctuary is a brilliant concept, and its message is pretty clear -- you can't "unchoose" yourself and survive. You can't deny purpose, you can't ignore the world around you and your place in it and flourish. The Watcher that runs the "sanctuary" (actually, deathtrap), Duncan Fillworthe, thinks he deserves the hiding place even at the expense of the Slayers that came to him for shelter because, he, too, doesn't want to be part of the fight anymore since the world is just so ungrateful. One will pardon the expression after reading this issue, but apparently that IS exactly the type of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten. For him, and for every Slayer that came there. Ironically, fleeing the power that Buffy gave these girls drove these girls right back to the oppressive patriarchal structure of the Council, such as it was, and to their deaths.

Giles' seems to come into all this with certain misgivings about the idea of being "out" of the fight, as he's already enthusing about the possibility of Faith's example being what will inspire the Slayers in the Sanctuary to find their courage and rejoin the fight. I somehow doubt that's what Twilight had in mind, and this issue I think takes him out of suspicion.

It should have been raining -- when Giles, Faith, and Courtney take command of the murderous, undeserving townfolk of Hanselstadt (doesn't that mean death of Hansel? A bit on the nose isn't it? I'm assuming based on "kinderstadt"), it should have been raining. They are the message -- you don't stop the fight, not because you're scared, not because you think you deserve a break, and not even because you deserve the gratitude of the people you're protecting -- you fight because it needs done. "Safe" is in this way the convergence of and intellectual heir to both "Orpheus" and "Not Fade Away" from "Angel" as well as the entire vampires-in-public arc and the disbelief and doubt it creates in Buffy. If Faith and Giles survive, they'll be the role-models for who Buffy will have to be to stand against Twilight.
If Faith and Giles survive, they'll be the role-models for who Buffy will have to be to stand against Twilight.


I like that, KofC. Very well-put.
Kindertod = Children's death
Hanselstadt = City of Hansel. (Notably not Gretelstadt or HanselundGretelstadt -- which given the German love for long compound words shouldn't be off-putting to Germans.)
Even with the Hansel, still pretty on the nose :) Thanks for clarifying -- I was just pronouncing the word from "Killed By Death", or I'd have grokked that different spelling means different word.

With Giles pretty much off the list for Twilight (if nothing else, what possible reason would there be for Twilight to, without using his powers, face down an army of pissed off hungry vampires?), that brings the list of credible suspects down to basically four -- all of which create nearly insurmountable logic or continuity problems.
Faith and Giles! FaithandGilesFaithandGilesFaithandGiles! Wheeeeeeeeee!

That said, these one-offs don't have nearly enough room for the awesomeness season 9 should contain. Which is why Faith and Giles need a mini-series.

Some very interesting character stuff. Giles regrets nothing! Faith's big regret had nothing to do with Sunnydale. They need to have a real confrontation with Buffy. Maybe something to do with pink-haired whatshername. It would be cool if Faith took her down, or got her to repent, or something, and then Buffy showed up.

And after all this time bringing up Jenny... oh, how I miss G/J, so cute. As much as I loved G/J, I would love Giles/Faith even more - even just some really good friendship moments would rock. Because together they kick. ass. Again, they need a mini-series. Or maybe a whole spin-off. It could be called Faith the Vampire Slayer: Tales of Awesome!

The explanation of the monster didn't make a whole lotta sense, why wouldn't the vampires just avoid the library?

Oh, and a big SO THERE! to everyone who thought that Giles resents Buffy and is teh evul.
My comic shop went out of business, d'oh. The comic shop my friend frequents 20 minutes from here also closed down. Trades and such can be aquired through Amazon.ca and large book stores, but monthlies/floppies and certain indie material are easier to get a hold of from comic shops (not worth what shipping costs when you just want one little issue to order at an online comic shop). Time to hunt for a new store.
I loved the issue, great story and great artwork. I was a little annoyed that the letters to the editor are so out of date (like from a year ago), but I did enjoy the variety of reactions to that long ago issue #12!

BTW Kris: I've been subscribing to a bunch of comics via midtowncomics.com in NYC (they are too big to fail!).
I wasn't able to make it to the comic store today, but besides King's glowing review, I've been hearing quite a few negative reactions about this one.
Emmie: I was skeptical while reading, and there were a few odd story choices, but the end tied it together really well. Easily the best of the "Predators and Prey" bunch.
Yeah,the letters with the reaction to Buffy/Satsu in issue 12 felt so 2008.lol

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-04-02 00:24 ]
Y'know, I don't really know what anyone gets out of the 8.12 letters a year after it was published. It all feels talked out. I didn't really read them, just skimmed.

Pat, what story choices did you find odd? I'm going to guess that at least half the negativity in general is going to have to do with the still-raging arguments over the Slayer spell in general and the apparent fact that Joss, vis a vis the unfolding story, is not flinching away from it in the way that people expected when this arc began. The message of "Safe" is very plainly that trying to hide from the power or the fight is a vote for mass suicide, as it very literally got the Slayers that sought sanctuary killed.
I think reactions to #24 depend a lot on expectations. For me this just wasn't a worthy follow-up to NFFY. That delivered many terrific insights into both Faith and Giles AND developed their characters in interesting ways. Vaughn had obviously spent a lot of time getting himself saturated in Faith's story. It's just not obvious that Krueger brought the same level of interest here. We get something from the flashback to Faith's first slay. And I like that Faith, at least, is crystal clear that slayers protect humans, even when they are crappy. But it just wasn't anything like the pure joy that was Vaughn's arc, with new insights at every turn.

Am still pondering what I make of other aspects of the issue. But the contrast with NFFY is why my first reaction was one of disappointment.

Oh and if we're ranking the issues of this arc: 21/23, 24, 22.
I think they've been getting better monthly... 24, 23, 22, 21. Overall, 8.24 would probably be in my top 10, probably not my top 5.
I love reading your reviews, KoC, but unfortunately I have to wait for my comic to arrive in the mail.

On the regard of the out-dated letter... really, what is the point of posting them? Wouldn't it make much more sense to just post the reaction letters for the most recent comic released (ex: #23 letters in issue #24)? The way it's done makes no sense to me, and disconnects me from the editor (which seems to invoke the opposite of what they're trying to do).
Meh. I though this issue was a bit of a snoozer, myself. The story didn't grab me at all, I didn't give a fig about Courtney, and the dialogue didn't meet my Buffy quippiness expectations.

Oh well. I guess they can't knock every single one out of the park, particularly when using writers who didn't work for show.
King, I agree with you, my man. Especially on how it's getting better monthly. I'd even say it started with #20, which was the bottom of the Buffy barrel. 20.... < 21... < 22 < 23 < ......24.
I get why they are trying to get letters for each issue in and especially for issue 12 since the controversy it caused.They want ot give everyone a vocie on each issue.Maybe they should have the letter column post reaction to a few issues at once.Like maybe two or three issues a letter column?

So far I would rank this arc as from favorite to least favorite.

#24,#21,#22,#23(I still can't stand Andrew so that is impacting my ranking).
I agree that the issues have gone up in this arc. I really don't get the love for 21, I'm sorry but Espenson has a really had time translating her skills into the medium. I think they’ve steadily improved. I haven’t read ‘Safe’ yet so I’m basing this on the other three issues, but each issue has gotten better.
Dear lord, what a bloody let down. Let me just start by saying that this went completely against any expectation that I may have had. I'll be the first to say that I usually wouldn't hold that against anything... unless it was pretty awful. That said, let's jump into it shall we?

Plot: Faith and Giles accompany new Slayer, Courtney, across Germany to pay a visit to a mysterious place dubbed the "Slayer Sanctuary". There they discover that the sanctuary is actually a sacrificial ground for unwilling Slayers. Yes... it's quite nonsensical

Art: Meh. Actually, more along the lines of meh-gack! It started out meh, then went towards gack. The one area that Cliff Richards always seems to earn praise is in his likenesses. Personally, I've never cared too much for his likenesses (they were serviceable, but with no charisma), and unfortunately for this issue, the same gripe surfaces. His Faith and Giles are serviceable at best... they bear a remote resemblance to the actors. But capturing a character goes so much deeper than just capturing the bone structure and proportions of a character. To truly capture a likeness, the character has to "act" like the real thing. The quirks, the charms, the mannerisms, the posture. Richards' characters don't act. They stand about and fake it.

Nevermind that... his landscapes fake it too. What's with all the flying scraps of paper?! Seriously. Go count how many panels feature scraps of paper billowing in the wind. The Germany I remember was insanely clean! Or at least I didn't see scraps of paper everywhere. Onwards anyway... usage of space... not one of Richards' strong points either. His panels fail to evoke any sense of space... they're always so claustrophobic with everything just kinda crammed in there. There are no details, and large rooms are always featureless. An example would be the town library. Instead of showcasing the cavernous space, the lofted skylit ceiling, we get rows and rows of identically sized books. Even the shelves are boring. The floor hopelessly drab. And in many of the panels... nothing at all. Much like his cavernous space in #10 where Buffy and Willow meet the Andy Warhol demon. It all boils down to a lack of creativity. Or at least a failure to translate. It's like the first Tomb Raider game when you look up at the ceiling and see just black, instead of the ceiling or the sky.

And finally... hydra-hair. Enough said.

Writing: I was hoping that #21 ("Harmonic Divergence") would be the low point of the arc, or even the entire season. Too bad, I'm sad. Where this fails is where it makes its leading lady feel like a recurring guest star instead of taking us deeper into what makes Faith tick. Even though Faith is featured prominently in the issue, she really doesn't say or do much that means anything. That makes it an utter waste of space for me. An even greater waste is the complete non-existence of character chemistry between Faith and Giles as partners. In fact, the partnership seems to have disintegrated, with Giles being all stuffy and commanding, and Faith reduced to pouting and mouthing off.

The tone is somewhat reminiscent of "Gingerbread", complete with the German demons. The plot is kinda nonsensical, but not much more than "Gingerbread", and some of the wackier episodes of seasons past. The premise behind a Slayer Sanctuary is intriguing, and the twist is kinda wicked, but it just doesn't pay off. There's just a complete disconnect between Faith and the events that transpire. She's just not there. That's a great fault of the writing. Where is the connection between the Faith who's regretful (and quite a bit guilty, judging from the words spoken by the manifestation of her fear) about letting one of her first vampires go, the Faith that then kills the demon, and the Faith at the end?

Verdict: Quite utterly fail!

[ edited by wenxina on 2009-04-02 02:43 ]
There needs to be a Faith and Giles spinoff book.
This was weird. So clearly a trap and Giles is oblivious? Really? The dialogue didn't quite make sense in places-- Courtney mentions the slayer sanctuary, Giles states it back as a question, she explains a little, Giles asks for more.... next page it feels like they're starting all over again. The vacillation from wanting to be a slayer and being afraid of it would make sense if we ever got enough of a feel for Courtney to follow the shift around, but we don't. And the thing about the demon is it affects kids in the town specifically, yet it's being fed girls of an age where some should be less vulnerable, and I'm supposed to feel alarmed when Duncan's going to feed it Giles. Giles. If you look up Internalize My Feelings in the Oxford English Dictionary, I'm pretty sure he's listed. With a photo where he's cleaning his glasses to avoid even looking at you.

Most disappointingly, we see Faith only in the thing's bad-memory thrall and then out of it. We never see the moment where she overcomes the thrall.

Where does the fire come from, after Faith hits it? I didn't understand what was going on there, with the slaying mechanics.
I'd love to know how the Slayer Sanctuary idea is any more "nonsensical" than half the MOTW in 254 episodes and all the comics. Correct me if I'm wrong, isn't it basically a twist on the plot of "Hellbound", substituting Duncan and the people of Handelstadt as Pavayne, and all the Slayers they lure in as the spirits he forces along in his stead? So, "Hellbound", also nonsensical?
Did I deny the nonsensical nature of any of the previous crazy monsters? The plot was somewhat ridiculous, but that wasn't my major peeve.
Oh and I loved that Ms. Calendar was mentioned. Glad to see they haven't forgotten about her.
I enjoyed the mention of Calendar also, but feel that the rest of the comic was perhaps the worst of Season 8 thus far. I normally really enjoy Cliff Richards' work, but there was little in this issue that I thought was good. It was at best adequate, and I surprisingly found myself wishing Georges was back, which hasn't happened before.

As others have mentioned, Kruger is definitely no replacement for Brian K. Vaughan. I enjoyed the flashback for Faith to her first slayings, and Giles' immunity to the monster was amusing, but the rest was a wash for me. Giles should be having a much, much larger role in the whole Buffy organization than merely going on fun vacations with Faith to see a few confused Slayers. He is largely the last Watcher standing, and even though Buffy and co. know how to deal with the bad guys already, he would be better put to use training Slayers (which we already kinda saw before), heading research teams, or even really going on missions deemed too dark for Buffy, i.e. of the killing Ben to stop Glory nature. That's what I had the impression would happen with the team up between Giles and Faith... that the last Watcher and Slayer would be doing the dirty laundry for the Buffy organization. This story felt too small for Giles and Faith, both of whom are the most experienced of Buffy's people.

The whole message of fight-or-die for Slayers was a good one, but in terms of actual story entertainment didn't do anything for me. Those Slayers must be really lame to just continue to allow their numbers to be thinned while hiding out in that town, but I guess that was the point.
Yeah, this is easily my least favorite issue of Season 8. No contest. I don't even know what #2 would be. There are things I like about it, but overall I'm left unimpressed.

And Wenxina said everything that needs be said about Cliff Richard's art.

Jeanty's work is so perfect for the series, it's a shame that he's unable to do every issue, but I understand and forgive him. Cause he needs my forgiveness, really. |-)~

I'd like to take a moment to point out that KoC's review did make me rethink a bit, and I appreciate that. But I remain unconvinced. KoC, your reviews (save for one, zing!) are always extremely appreciated and insightful!
I loved this issue. I think it easily surpasses anything else in the ‘Prey and Predators’ arc that we’ve gotten so far. Giles and Faith were awesome as per usual, Duncan and Courtney were very nice additions and it was very creepy.

The Giles/Faith relationship wasn’t as focused on as I expected it to be, but it was still great nevertheless. I really enjoyed how Giles tells Faith that she’s too hard on herself. Truer words were never spoken. I also greatly appreciated how he snapped at Faith to stop it, someone has to keep kicking her gear into butt. A lot like Buffy did for Angel in ‘Amends’ but perhaps even more so, how Cordy did for Angel in Ats. Faith and Angel are a lot a like in needing motivation to keep them from self wallowing.

It was great to see Faith’s first kill. We saw Buffy’s first kill and she succeeded (after she missed the heart) but Faith doesn’t manage to dust all of them. It reminds me a lot of when they’re falling down towards the pool in ‘No Future For You’ and both are praying they don’t get the shallow end. Buffy got the deep end, Faith got the shallow end. No surprises there. I think King was spot on about his analysis of that scene, it really was the beginning of Faith’s inferiority complex. The vampire she let get away. Makes how scorned she looks in ‘Revelations’ when Post calls her attack a “blunder” even more appropriate looking back on it. Just another wound Post rubbed more salt into. But I think there’s other layers with this scene as well. Not only is it the beginning of Faith feeling inferior but it’s also the first sign of her blasé attitude to slaying. It’s the first sign of what will become an increasing trend of “unannounced walkabouts” and being “uninterested in proper training.” Faith could have chased after him but she settled for the two she did manage to kill. Chasing after him would require too much effort.

The Giles/Duncan stuff was great and I was thrilled that they brought up Jenny Calendar. Throughout the years I’ve seen a lot of fans speculate that Giles may resent Buffy a little for “allowing” Angelus to kill her. Many speculated that it was the reason he couldn’t trust her in season seven. I’m not entirely against such speculation, I think in some ways it could indeed be accurate. However, this issue addresses that head on by having Duncan try and use this moment to sway Giles to his side. But he *rejected* it, he didn’t detest Buffy or slayers for what happened. Points for Giles and how great he was for brushing it off.

Courtney reminded me a lot of Buffy with her parental issues and missing the heart for the first time. Faith inspired this Buffy replica and made her believe, is it possible this is symbolic for what’s to come further down the line in season eight?


Faith really does seem like Angel's protégé in so many ways. Telling the other slayers that even though the townspeople were scum, they had to fight for them because that’s what they do, is very reminiscent of what Angel said regarding Knox. And I thought the ending was very uplifting with Faith standing with the humans ready to fight the vampires.

Overall a really solid issue. My favourite issue in a long while. I can’t wait to see Giles/Faith pop up again, I really love those two characters. I’ll be feeding off this issue for a while. I’ve already read it 3 times and am about to read it again, so much goodness! :D
While BKV got Faith a cooler story to act in, Jim Krueger nailed her voice better. This issue made me hope for a spin-off. The three main characters of this issue had a great oddball chemistry.
It seemed like fanfic to me. Especially the random associate from Giles' past whom we've never seen, but has somehow has memorized the plot details of season 2 enough to reference a character he never met who died 6+ years ago. Total fanservice.

It pretty much reminded me of the pre-season 8 Buffy comics, the one Joss wasn't involved in at all. No characterization, no plot movement. Just "Here are characters you like, watch them do stuff."

[ edited by dingoes8 on 2009-04-02 18:09 ]
Well there certainly never random associates of Giles on television... I mean, other than that one, that one, that one, that one, and that one...
It's not that the guy randomly appeared that seems off, it's that he not only knew about Jenny, but was familiar enough with the interpersonal dynamics that contributed to her death and Giles' relationship with her and with Buffy to push Giles' buttons so well. I really doubt most people who know Giles could aim that so well.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-04-02 18:41 ]
Giles of Season 2 was still a rather dutiful Watcher, and we know in later seasons that the Council was aware of Angel's basic nature, even if they didn't approve of him much at all. I've always assumed, looooong before a mention in this issue, that Giles recorded the necessary facts in his diaries and that they would have been known to the Council. Facts to include -- Slayer dating vampire with a soul who is a nominal ally, curse, vampire loses soul, kills many locals including Jenny. The context of any attention he'd have paid to Jenny in such a writing on its own would probably be enough for a clever person to recognize his own relationship with her... it's not much of an intuitive leap to this guy having enough of the frontpage details to turn a knife in Giles.
Also, we learn that Giles is not the only surviving member of the Council


Presumably Wes' dad is another surviving member.
Hmm, I really don't see how this ranked as a good issue for some people. It's all been said before but the art was pretty dire and flat, the character likenesses hit the spot maybe twice for Giles and three times for Faith, the dialogue was unengaging, unclear and didn't 'sound' like the Giles or Faith we know.

The G/F relationship rang hollow, I felt little to no connection between them, and for a G/F issue there was so little time spent on their relationship that it was almost pointless having them in the story. Which actually wouldn't have mattered if the story really did anything for the season arc other than briefly mention the fact that some slayers may not want to be chosen, but then not even make this the focus of the story.

The story itself was pretty predictable when it made logic-sense, the monster was a bit too reminiscent of Stephen King's 'It' for me. Courtney was neither endearing nor instantly hateable, left me with a distinct 'meh' feeling where I couldn't care less about her parental issues or her near death. Way too many wasted panels on her.

Plus all the Faith character 'insights' failed to be insightful in any way for any longstanding Faith fan. I felt that the semi-failure of her first slaying would actually not be an issue for her after dealing with Kakistos back in FH&T and dealing with the guilt of letting her watcher die.

Agree with Sunfire about the mechanics of the demon's death too, what happened there? Did Faith have a magical exploding crossbow that shields the bearer from injury while destroying a massive hydra beast thing? I feel that was just lazy right there.

I want Jeanty back on art and some forward progression/charater development very soon please.
While the demon was busy eating Duncan, Faith impaled it in its central brain-node, right above its mouth.

(I missed it myself at first, and thought she was just hitting a random tentacle. But no, if you look carefully, the demon does have a head.)

Then it exploded in a bright flash of light visible a mile away, leaving nothing but its jawbone and a few twitching severed tentacles behind.
I hope New Watcher Guy is wrong about there being no more Watchers at all any more, rather than just having lost their central command. I like Watchers. They are fun. Stuffy tweedy fun.
Won't have mine until tomorrow night as always but soem thoughts on a major theme.

On the one hand, the idea that all the girls called as Slayers have to fight or die is in and of itself illogical. Now, yes, yes, and yes, a comic book about a super-powered being who isn't in some sense a hero or villain or something along that continuum would not work, as a saleabels tory. But, int he larger world in which the comic is set, there's no reason to think that any number of people have super-powers and choose to simply lead quiet lives, or perhaps become super entertainers or politicians.

However, look at it for another perspective. I've often comapred the twilight storyline to X-Men's "Committee to Investigate Mutant Activity," and denounced both as a way of playing the old (and, If eel, tired) cliche of McCarthyist reigns of terror. and Is tillf eel thatw ay. However....

The mutant storyline and Joss's current World vs Slayers arc also hark to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Unlike "suspicious leftists," whose differences were intellectual choices, both the mutants and the Slayers have a physical distinction which can't just be erased. Just like a black person, whatever his/her political or social beliefs could not ever be truly a disinterested party in civil rights struggles. Regardless of personal feelings, he/she would still live afterwards in a country that was either still segregated or now legally equal.

The same with the Slayers,w hether on team Buffy or any other palce. Twilight and the publicity machine he cranked up, will come looking for the Chosen Ones. "Girl X," will she or nil she, has to respond to that. And a case can always be made for solidarity. The super-strong young women can't just lie low or be quietly open, they'll eb froced intoa decision and the msot plausible way is, arguably, to join the group striving to give them a secure place in the world.

There's a second aesthetic aspect to this. Joss loves to (with apologies to John Calvin and John Knox for borrowing their language) "re-present" his themes. The main exposition is so often accompanied by a mirror (left for right) image, or a miniature version, or an analogue. And aren't the vampires surfacing and demanding recognition?
Preface: This is not a positive review. My first issue where I'm truly disappointed. And I'm not one of those who ranks NFFY as my favorite arc of all time for Season 8, so I didn't have high expectations for this issue like others who'd been dying for more Faith and Giles. But this...

Does anyone else think Giles came off sounding like an idiot in this piece?

Giles' Dialogue:

1. "Slayer Sanctuary?" (Yes, Giles repeat what Courtney said in a 'stating the obvious' manner.)
2. "Tell me more about this Slayer Sanctuary." (Yes, please do so the story can move forward from your robotic dialogue.)
3. "We need to find this place." (No duh.)
4. "We just made it. This is the only train that reaches Hanselstadt. It's deep in the mountains." (Thank God you were here to tell us where we are, Giles, otherwise the audience would have to think for themselves without you here to point out the obvious...or maybe read a location bubble in the top corner so that you could actually sound like Giiiiiiiiles.)
5. "If these girls are hiding here, seeing you might get them back in the fight." (Again, thanks for expressing this in the most linguistically and intellectually simplistic way possible. 'Cause that's clearly in-character for you when written by Krueger.)
6. "Vampires. I don't understand. What are they waiting for?" (Wow, thanks for remembering to wear your glasses today Giles or we'd never have known that those were vampires out there and that they're all creepily waiting outside of town. No please, don't have an emotional reaction or an intelligent thought, Giles. You might hurt yourself. And I'm going to keep calling you Giles so that I remember that's who you're supposed to be.)
7. "You're too hard on yourself, Faith." (Good thing you brought your Chicken Soup for the Soul on the train, Giles. What would Faith have done without that sage advice?)
8. "Enough, Faith." (Brief. Yeah, it's better when you don't go on. Thanks.)

And I could go on but it's starting to bore me even more. Seems like Krueger took Giles' role as the exposition guy way too literally. I'd do the same for Faith, but I think it might make me cry.

The dialogue lacks zing, lacks character, lacks depth. Oh, and when did Faith start calling Giles "G"? She always seemed to go more towards the formal "Giles". And when did Giles become a guy who let anyone call him "G" without comment? How many times has Giles said "stop" to Xander for calling him "G-man"? Oh wait, that's right. We're not reading the true characters and their accompanying history like we did in No Future For You. We're reading a metaphoric tale that uses Faith and Giles as vehicles, pushing the characters down and molding them to the story til they're only recognizable by their names and the way Richards passingly draws their likenesses.

As for the vision the demon draws up to torment Faith with, "The Third" has got to be one of the lamest concepts ever. At least the First Evil had that source of all things bad and scary going for it. Faith being shit-scared by a measly little vampire in a vision makes no sense. If Krueger had used Kakistos or Faith's first watcher to torment her, now there would be some emotional bling to write home about. But "The Third"? Yawn. I mean, who'd be scared of the guy who won the Bronze medal anyway? You came in third? Next!

I'm not sure how Krueger did it, but he managed to make the edgiest characters in Buffy Season 8 right now - the rogue Slayer who saves the world her way and the watcher who's out there to help her, both fightin' that evil while dealing with their dark pasts - read like characters in a Disney version of a dark fairytale. Sigh. There are so many plot holes in this issue I can't even truly do it justice. Why do the villagers sacrifice their children instead of moving away? Why do the vampires all hang out right outside the town instead of going somewhere they can actually score a meal? Why does Giles sound like an idiot? Oh wait, that wasn't a plot hole. Sorry.

My hopes are high that Petrie will restore some shine to the story next month and I'm expecting a better translation to the comic medium than Espenson's initial foray because Petrie's work is always so visual (Buffy and Faith with knives at each other's throats, Spike kneeling on the ground looking up at Buffy in Fool For Love). Here's hopin'.

This was just...not good. Not only did Giles and Faith read as dumbed down, but I think I might have actually lost brain cells from the egregiously low expectations that Krueger has placed on the audience. My least favorite issue of Season 8 bar none.

[ edited by Emmie on 2009-04-03 07:36 ]
Oh, Emmie, you just sparked a memory in me; in Faith, Hope & Trick when Buffy and Faith are swapping stories about vamps they've killed, isn'it it Buffy who had a thing with a vamp called the Third...hang on, locating exact dialogue...okay, my mistake, Buffy talks about the Three:

Buffy: Oh! Oh, do you guys remember the Three? That's right, you never met the Three. Well, there was three...

Damn...oh well, I can still be sarcastic about the originality.
I can't help but agree with Emmie 100%, this is the weakest, most nonsensical issue of Season 8 yet! A major disappointment. Let's hope for something better next time!
The charge that it is nonsensical is, in itself, rather nonsensical. There is absolutely nothing more inexplicable about vampires waiting around to attack this town or the people in it being unable to move than there was about anybody voluntarily living in Sunnydale *at all*, or the daytime travelling bank of biker demons. The absurd in this plot is another in the long line of examples of things that aren't in the least bit more absurd than what happened on television, but because it's in the comics, its wrong.

I admit, on further reading, I think better of what "Safe" evokes than what "Safe" actually is, but I think it's a brilliantly conceived theme and message with a merely mundane execution. I can think of several issues of Season 8 that one would have to say are worse, for instance, "Harmonic Divergence".
My favourite issue of this arc. Faith and Giles were captured perfectly, and the idea of a vamp-free zone but with an evil twist was cool.
Duncan Fillworthe, thinks he deserves the hiding place even at the expense of the Slayers that came to him for shelter because, he, too, doesn't want to be part of the fight anymore since the world is just so ungrateful. One will pardon the expression after reading this issue, but apparently that IS exactly the type of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.

What exactly about that thinking is "liberal"?

[ edited by barboo on 2009-04-03 19:39 ]
I think the idea hidden in this issue is everyone moral compass is askew, not just Buffy's. The town had been sacrificing its children. Again: that town had been killing its children. Watcher Filworth did not seem phased by that. Messed up.
Blah... I just didn't like this issue. The dialogue was really bland and lacked a lot of the sparkle of some of the earlier issues. Also, the twist was SO OBVIOUS from the very beginning. I also really don't understand how this ties together with the earlier issues of this "arc".

On a completely unrelated note, my comic book store guy said that no one is reading Blood and Trenches and I had to laugh. It looked so unappealing, but I'm wondering if anyone is actually reading it and if it's any good.

[ edited by xanderharris on 2009-04-04 04:18 ]
I finally got my copy. As others have said, the writing is good, I liked the plot, there is very little major character development, but it is a solid single issue of the story. Note I didn't not say this is s good issue. It isn't.

You know, it might have been interesting if they had set it in, say, Germany.

Because I don't know the hell where this is supposed to be. It has (as discussed previously) American trashcans, Oktoberfest spelled with a "c", Bäckerei misspelled in three different ways (note that the "Library" changes its name to "Backery" at the end), trash all over the place (very, very much not Germany), no cars -- (Germany has more cars per capita than the U.S.) -- and the clothes people wear look like Zarist Russia 1903. Look at those funny hats! What do Germans really wear? What Americans wear, stuff like jeans. I wonder where they got all of those shotguns in the end, because Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Oh, and pitchforks? I wonder if they go to the toilet in outhouses.

So much for suspension of disbelief.

Dark Horse just made a fool out of themselves and the Buffy franchise in the largest market in Europe. Way to go, guys. The artists obviously couldn't be bothered to do research and the editors couldn't be bothered to fact-check things like simple translations. This is the sort of shoddy work that gives American media a bad reputation in the world -- when my German friends are done drying their tears of laughter, they are going to get angry, and rightly so. If I were German, I'd stop reading the comic, period. This is downright insulting.

I'll be sending a list of the most obvious mistakes to the editors with the suggestion that this team is never allowed to write another episode.
I loved this issue and the art was beautiful. This one is definately in my top five list of favorites. Giles has just been gone too long.
The negative reviews are a mystery to me. I enjoyed this one more than a lot of the others.
Fun issue, but WAY too much for a one-off. The introduction of a slayer sanctuary felt very rushed and out-of-the-blue, while Faith's killshot made no sense at all. This could've been a real gem if it'd been ten pages longer or a two-parter.
Scott Allie says it was energy, not fire, when Faith stabbed the demon.

SlayAlive Q&A on #24.
Is nobody going to note that the "slayer sanctuary" was a callout to the Angel ep "Sanctuary" where Angel takes Faith in after her breakdown? Note also that that episode shows Buffy absolutely outraged that Angel would cut Faith any slack for doing evil, and clearly illustrates how Buffy sees the world as taking sides either for or against her, and really illuminates the cracks in Buffy's heroism, as well as the length of the path Faith has to take to redeem herself.

In this issue Faith revisits her own regrets and slays them. It looks to me like a way to show closure for Faith's dark-side persona. Maybe a little broad, but it also seems like a relatively low-exposition way to direct the story back to the murky Buffy/Faith relationship.

[ edited by fleem on 2009-04-06 14:08 ]
Damn, killed the thread!
Hmm... now that you mention that, fleem, I think I'm going to have to go back and re-read "Safe" and re-watch "Sanctuary." If for nothing else than I liked them both, a lot.

I really do hope they bring the "murky Buffy/Faith relationship" back to the forefront in upcoming issues, at least for a few panels. I felt that their last meeting in NFFY part 3 was too brief, and didn't really explain anything about where these two characters were with each other.

At the end of "Chosen," Buffy seems to have accepted that Faith is back on her side, but in NFFY, Buffy is right back to accusing Faith of being evil/against her/whathaveyou. I'm wondering if something happened between them from "Chosen" to "The Long Way Home" that would make Buffy react in such a knee-jerk manner, or if it's more of Buffy seeing the world and the people in it totally black and white.

I hope the writers give some kind of resolution to this soon!
I am of the camp that thought this was the worst (or at least one of the 3 worst) season 8. I don't have it in front of me to comment too specifically, but the dialogue fell totally flat, and the story made very little sense to me.

The fact that Faith knowingly walks into a trap, but Giles has no inkling of this fact? Just doesn't make sense. Also, Courtney seems like a throw-away character.

I also didn't get a real sense for what Giles and Faith have been up to. I think it was said earlier in this post, but shouldn't these two be taking on some serious endeavors, rather than wandering around Europe kind of aimlessly? I don't get it, and it doesn't have any emotional resonance for me at all.

I sincerely hope the next issue is far better than this one. Ugh.
I think "No Future For You" didn't represent a complete break between Buffy and Faith. Buffy's accusations went flying after Faith *threw her out of a window*, and things were happening way too fast for Buffy to understand the full context. And when Faith let up, Buffy looked concerned for her.
Wow I don't understand the hate on this one. It's not the worst issue. It's not like it had Buffy out of no where sleeping with a girl, or Harmony biting Andy Dick and making vampires popular with an MTV reality show. Safe didn't really add much, but it didn't bother me like some past stories. I am ready for season 8 to get moving though, it's time for something major to happen.
I kind of agree that the narrative on its face is mildly lame, but this one is way more about the arc and the metaphor than it is about the A story, and as such I find it pretty compelling (it's the layers, y'all).

Really, it's bringing us back to the Buffy/Angel recurring theme -- everyone casts his or herself as the good guy. The ex-watcher claims to be protecting the town, Faith, rescuing the slayers but possibly allowing the town to get overrun, killing her own regrets, at what expense? Willow, Buffy, Fray, Twilight. I could come up with more but I'm supposed to be working :)

[ edited by fleem on 2009-04-07 16:17 ]

[ edited by fleem on 2009-04-07 16:45 ]
I was looking forward to this issue because I'd liked the previous Faith/Giles arc so much. But. I agree with Emmie 100%. I found the issue beyond boring and would appreciate a return of the characters that I watched for seven years.

And oh yeah, if anyone was wondering, I have no problem stating that I've read fanfiction that was better than this.
My problem here is that all good things in the 'verse are about layers, but that doesn't mean that having a story with a strong metaphor means the rest of it gets to squeak by. The very first layer must be good characterization and language and after peeling that back you get the metaphory goodness. This issue failed to create a strong first layer and lost me long before the metaphor made itself apparent.

I'm very happy we're moving on to Petrie's issue and then the Retreat arc which is supposed to kick the action into high gear.
I'm really looking forward to the "Retreat" arc. I really hope Jane doesn't write it the way she did "Harmonic Divergence," because I'm not sure I'd be able to take that. She did "Haunted" fine, so it boggles my mind why she struggled so much with format in #21. I pray it's not an issue in this upcoming arc, which is apparently the game changer.
So I finally read this, and I'm apparently the only one that thought it rocked?

Though I will agree that some of Giles' dialogue was clearly there just to move the plot along. Kind of similar to Wash in Serenity: "We need to talk to Mr. Universe." "Let's get to the beacon." Though of course Wash had way more awesome dialogue in the movie, too.
I hate that my fist post here has to be a not "Yay team, love what you do" sorry but the Faith Giles story was average and predictable. I like Faiths slayer style more than Buffy and like others I had a higher expectation of what she would be up to by now with Giles for guidence. I had also expected a bit of Faith to rub off on Giles but he was written stuffier than ever. But i have Faith (sorry punning) in the Whedon "BIG picture" and you know that everything, E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G that is included in the comic formate is important when compared with the past events and review with future material, its the 'Oh i didn't see that coming, but in hindsight i should have' phenomononme (how do you spell that word). Now as with any of my comments i intend to post here i will finish with ....Bring on OZ and where the hell is Angel (being in another comic universe is not an excuse.
Ok i just had a thought, do you suppose the Big Bad being named Twilight was a poke at the Tweenies hit new Vamps at the movies (and its not a vamp if it can walk in the sun, i don't care how much poetic licence you take with vamp lore). Can the next Big bad be a succubus called Anita cause that chick needs slayed.
treenie, Joss has said he hadn't even heard of Twilight until after devising Buffy S8.

Also, in Bram Stoker's Dracula, vampires could walk in the sun. So that's not as much of a deal-breaker as it might seem.

[ edited by UnpluggedCrazy on 2009-04-12 17:51 ]
They didn't sparkle though. That's just not right.
Im glad Twilight is Joss's original big bad idea, but i do love it when pop culture references each other. I would seriously love to see Faith hook up with the Winchester brothers from Supernatural. Wait let me refrase. Faith would fit right in with thier world of hunting. Also i've been reading above at some of the disharmony at issue 21. Sorry can't help myself. Love it or hate it people it was some seriously clever writing and has opened the door for some massive possabilities in the buffy verse. Cheers for the reply.
Oh and.... OZ could ya, go on you know you wana.
I don't think vamps walked in the sun in Dracula. They HAD to be in the earth during the day, didn't they? I know until the final bite they could but once they were undead no more tanning, am I right?
Its been a long while since i read the book or watched the Gary Oldman movie, but i think Mr Unplugged is right,Dracula himself could day walk when in him most human form, but the only images i can conjure are indoor daytime scenes. But then i also remember a team of horses racing along a mountain path to get indoors before the sun rose, so now i just voting for
Vamps + daylight= bad.
(Bring back Oz and or Angel, flash back, dream spot. I'm open to options here.)
Not much to say about this one, it was fine. I'm always happy to get more info on the state of the rest of the Buffyverse (like updates on the Watchers, though Simon brought up a good point about Duncan probably not being the last one aside from Giles. Roger Wyndam-Price, possibly Kendra's Watcher if he stayed in the Caribbean, likely others unless members really were that attatched to staying in England and at headquarters). I wish we'd seen a scenario where Slayers who don't want to fight are safe somewhere (maybe if they just hide out singly ? Or were they allowed to join up with Buffy and just hide in the now-blown-up-castle ? Or is there a you-no-fight/you-no-eat rule in the House of Summers? We still don't know how Buffy tracks them down, do we ? Or how the Council did before).

Re: Jane Espenson

The 4-issue Buffy:"Haunted" mini-series (pre-Season 8) is still the best thing she's written for the franchise in comic form. I can't remember if everything in it still fits into continuity (though I believe so, it simply requires the reader to buy into the idea that the essence of the Mayor lingered after he got blown up in "Graduation Day"), but I hugely appreciated it back when it was published. Felt like a good between Season 3 & 4 "summer break" fit for the series, though it shouldn't be read until after Season 4 for new viewers because of the major Initiative spoilers.

What else did Jane write for Buffy and/or Angel comics ? The Jonathan one-shot (I remember it being okay, given that it originally started off as blank comic with a couple covers for a prop in the "Superstar" episode), plus "Harmonic Divergence" (mostly poor, aside from the Latina slayer) ? Still eager for her next arc.
@ Kris
I really like the "Haunted" mini also, the mayor's
voice is very clear, and i like the perspective shift
away from the Scoobies.
Caveat: i didn't need to wait months and months.
I'm very far behind. But I picked up my comics yesterday.

This story is almost identical in plot (and even in monster) to the recent story arc in The Fantastic Four. I find that very odd.

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