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"Yeah, what'd she do? Bone a thricewise?"
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May 06 2009

(SPOILER) For the discussion of Buffy #25. This story is penned by Doug Petrie ("Fool For Love", "Bad Girls", "Beneath You"). The Buffy Season 8 Volume 4 "Time of Your Life" tpb also comes out in comic book shops today.

Going to the X-Men Movie, then to the comic store at 2, then lost tonight, what a great day!
Volume 4 comes out today?! Amazon has been lying to me. I'll pop into Waterstones hoping its there tomorrow.
Waterstones may not have it as comic book shops use a different distributor (I think).
Here are my thoughts in list form...

Dawn the Doll: Even though the title is "Living Doll", it still totally caught me off guard that Dawn's next transformation was Pinocchio.

Veronica Mars reference: EXCELLENT! Maybe in the Buffyverse VM never got cancelled....*sigh*

Jeanty: His SMG likeness has greatly improved. In fact, his likeness of MT and AH has also greatly improved. The art looks fantastic, possibly because he skipped last month.

Only annoying thing...I thought we were supposed to be getting a Twilight turning point this issue. In one of the letter columns a few months back, Allie said as much. Sup?
Wasn't that in reference to Issue #26?
Waterstones may not have it as comic book shops use a different distributor (I think)

The one I regular has some of the earlier volumes (including the omnibuses) and some Angel ATF HB. I'm more than sure its not their priority though.

[ edited by Jayme on 2009-05-06 23:21 ]
Won't be able to pick mine up till tomorrow. Desperately trying to remain unspoiled.
Rowan:

Issue #20 Letter Column re: this arc:

"Finally, the first Buffy show writer to take a stab at the comics, Doug Petrie, will wrap up this arc with another Twilight turning point".
Hooray for the return of Buffy-speak! Petrie is on fire as he brings closure to the 'Dawn transformation' plotline with wit, wonderful pacing and pitch perfect character gold.

One point of order before I go into what I loved about this issue - how does Buffy always manage to choose the most supernaturally hot hotspots to set up her homebase? Apparently not only are there forest folk nearby but a Gepetto who lives in a "creepy" ass cottage. Just saying, it'd be nice to have a Hellmouth to explain the crazy or perhaps some kind of Scottish legend backing it up.

And the torture scene in the beginning is a complete mislead as Gepetto is actually keeping porcelain doll!Dawn safe because her soul could leak out if she's broken ('course he's still keeping her captive, but he's a cuddly captor). There are no villains to defeat in this issue, no demons to slay except for Dawn's guilt and regret. The whammy Kenny put on her magically released itself when Dawn said "I'm sorry." And I'll pause for the requisite I told you so" ---- But ha! I told you so to everyone who said that Buffy and Willow were fully informed about Dawn sleeping with Kenny's roommate when they're clearly not. Xander accidentally lets the cat out of the bag to Buffy and hates himself for revealing Dawn's secret. A secret that he can "now hate [himself] in British" for spilling.

The witty repartee in this issue was a joy to read and Xander's line - "I have an ace in my hole. Let me instantly rephrase that...we have an inside man." - made me laugh so hard I had to put down the comic for a minute. Along with the wonderful Xander dialogue and the awesome Veronica Mars shout-out, the final closing scene between Buffy and Dawn is utterly heartwarming. Buffy reassuring Dawn that she has "a thousand soldiers. Only one sister...I love my sister to death" is great to hear and the closing threat "I will kill you" to Dawn for scratching her VM dvd ends the issue on a perfectly snarky note.

Interesting to note that the supposed vampire threat that got such a viciously, wicked name - Judas Priest - turns out to be so lame that the Slayers immediately overwhelm the enemy of all six vampires in the army. Kinda reinforces the idea that the Slayers are so large in number perhaps they're becoming their own worst enemy.

The hilarity continues with Andrew as the "inside man" who pretends to be a college student looking to room with Kenny in order to set up totems to transport the Thricewise back to Scotland - the awesome part besides Andrew's awkwardly funny dialogue - the totems are Yodas. Hee!

And my review is horribly out of order with the way things went down but just read it as Memento meets stream-of-consciousness.

[ edited by Emmie on 2009-05-06 20:08 ]
Hm. I must've confused it with something else. Oh, well.
What Emmie said. First issue I haven't had issues with (heh) in quite a while. Very enjoyable.
Loved it! I liked that Dawn's third incarnation was as a doll (but she had been a very cute Centaur) and I loved having some Xander and Andrew time (but I thought the latter would be wearing a Boba Fett hoodie!?). I thought Georges Jeeanty promised!? Oh well, maybe later.
Agree with Emmie that there's a lot to enjoy here. But. An arc that has gone for 24 issues (over two years in audience time) pays off with this? All the issues Xander brought up in issue #2 were exactly on the mark, and now the two sisters can admit all to each other? Yes, yes. It's all very nice. But it kind of means that Dawn's story really is just a totally stray plot thread that has nothing to do with nothing. It inclnies me to think that it's all just set-up for the big tragic moment that Dawn gets killed. (Cause that's the only dramatic use of this plotline that I can see, again assuming that what you see is what you get).

Am hoping there's more to it, though at this point I pretty much think that this is it. Lot's of other fun stuff though. Sharp dialogue is fun. Artwork is nice. The 6 vamp reveal could serve as interesting commentary on the question of just what sort of a world it is that suddenly needs an army of slayers when forever before only one was able to keep thinks keeping on. Andrew got called an inside man. Unlikely that hooks back to anything else -- but if it should, we got foreshadowing here. Am now thinking that the fairy tale stuff all over the place needs to become a plot element. Though maybe that's just me thinking that if fairy tales matter in Dollhouse they might well matter here too. But if the Dawn plot really is as straight-forward as it seems to me to be, I begin to think maybe it's over-thinking to read closely for details like that. Giants. Cool. Really.
Andrew got called an inside man. Unlikely that hooks back to anything else

I don't think it's so unlikely really. I believe that phrase was used carefully. It's hard for it not to be read that way considering the dramatic use of it being carried over from the other page. We get a joke then a ... that leads to "inside man". Seems like far too careful a placement for it to be a throwaway.

An arc that has gone for 24 issues (over two years in audience time) pays off with this?

The fact that it's tied up so neatly certainly does leave room for it to be turned on its head.
The best part about this issue was Jeanty's close-up of Buffy in the panel in which she asks, "How can I not know this?" Very well done.

The creepy dolls bit felt a little reminiscent of vampy cats, but were nonetheless effective.
I have my copy and loved the issue.Easily my favorite of this arc(issues 21-25.Pefect resolution to the Dawn plotline iMO and loved pretty much everything about it.

Also quite enjoyed Angel:Blood And Trenches #3.


[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-05-06 22:04 ]

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-05-06 22:19 ]
Let's begin with a giant "... the hell?" with the ostensibly completely fictional Twilight development in this issue. Thanks for 5 months of pointless anticipation, Scott. Love ya man, but... eh?

Unless, of course, there was a Twilight development, and we were invited to stare right past it.

"... an inside man" is a phrase that invites attention. And it carries into a scene change over to Andrew who's tracking Kenny. But, uh, that doesn't really track at all does it? Xander doesn't appear to take any real part in the "get Kenny" angle, that's Andrew and Willow. Xander goes from having an "inside man" to walking through the forest with Buffy. Whatever source *Xander* referred to theoretically set them on Dawn's trail, not on Kenny's. And who is always watching...?

Of course, such a thing still makes no sense at all and is still, ever since 8.09, more or less the most obvious way they could have gone, but it was noticeable to me that nothing Xander actually did seemed to have anything to do with finding Kenny, other than that scene change.

Leaving that alone for the time being, I'm glad we're finally done with this Dawn thing and the morphing, but if the idea here was for me to sympathize with Kenny... no. How is Kenny any different from Willow in "Wild At Heart"? Answer -- Willow *stopped*. Kenny's spell may not have been all low and angry like that, but it was still dangerous and unjustified. I'm glad that Dawn, ostensibly, is done with him.

And *very* glad that Dawn and Buffy seem to have worked it out. That is, contrary to some opinion, worth 25 issues of build up.

Great Buffy/Xander stuff in this issue (notwithstanding the possible "inside man" implications that would be a problem), so that's always good.

Really, it's the best issue of "Predators and Prey", but that's a very low bar for Season 8 so far, and I honestly think that this arc has been by far the most disappointing of the five multi-issue arcs so far.
The fact that it's tied up so neatly certainly does leave room for it to be turned on its head.

That, of course, is my hope. I'm just putting on protective gear for the chorus of voices in some sectors that will say that yes, indeed, Dawn became a giant for the single solitary reason that Joss wanted to show off how free of budget constraints he really is. The dangling, non-moving Dawn plotline has been a common complaint, and now I can't rebut it by saying "surely Joss will use that to good dramatic effect at some point."
Sounds cute. I'm sure I'll like it.

And reminds me that I'm really beginning to find Joss's world a bore lately. Like the steam is gone.
Maggie, I love how you're already planning ahead for your rebuttals. Hee!
This 5 issue arc really didn't accomplish much. I hope they explain why vampires are popular eventually, because it's hard to believe. Anyway, good issue, maybe the best of this arc, but I was expecting Twilight info since Allie said we'd get it months ago.

There's not much to chew on or think about when it comes to this arc and I hope the comics get as good as the first 11 issues were. I'm personally sick of Andrew, I guess I just don't get him.
Nice to see they wrapped up the Dawn thread.
The end of this one felt a bit rushed, what with the dialogue for a seasons-long reconciliation squeezed onto one page at the end. Seems like there should've been a slower pacing there and more emotional depth. Also weird that Willow & co were so smoldering in the anger when they confronted Kenny.

Overall I liked it. Good Xander/Buffy dialogue, nice Xander slip-up, realistic resolution to the Dawn/Kenny angst. And Dawn is finally Dawn again for the first time in forever. Yay.
I think that Dawnie's story arc was about more than just the fact that we don't need expensive special effects when creating stories in comic books. It is about Dawn realizing that she can't go through life getting into trouble and waiting for Buffy to come and save her. Dawn had started to embrace her own strengths and weaknesses in Season 7, but this series has shown her managing to try to help Buffy & the other slayers when she can, and trying to save herself without just waiting helplessly.
And Dawn finally learns that she doesn't have to be the damsel in distress to have Buffy's attention and love, that she's her sister and will always have her love (Buffy's working on the attention part of it).
The payoff here was two-fold -- the fact of Dawn screwing up a relationship theoretically should finally welcome her into the "adult" category of characters, and we actually get her and Buffy covering new ground, moreso than they ever did in "Grave", when 90% of the dealing there was about Buffy wanting to live. For me, Buffy and Dawn actually communicating honestly and coming to *actual* mutual respect like adult siblings eventually must was worth a 25 issue slow build.

Now, yes, the instrumentality of it, the shape-changing, was all about the budgetless environment, as well it should be.

On the negative side, Kenny is just a really poor character, to me. He's not at all sympathetic, Dawn being a big ho at Berkeley aside, and the spell was completely unjustified. If Kenny is never even mentioned again in Season 8, that will be just fine.

The arc in general, was a disappointment, I must say -- the "vampires in public" change was too poorly drawn, not demonstrated nearly enough (I wonder if that is what's prompted a "Tales of the Vampires" one shot in the first place), and not enough to make clear the full peril to the Slayers. Most of that has... really developed in the prologue summary, talking about how the Slayers have to hide from humanity. As a result, unlike the urgency of, say, "Wolves at the Gate" and the threat of reversing the spell, the only parts of "Predators and Prey" that really signified were the stuff between familiar and interesting characters -- Kennedy and Satsu in 8.22 and Buffy, Dawn, and Xander in 8.25 in particular. I am even forced to say that even Season 7 did more to articulate the global danger than Season 8, which should definitely not be the case, because of the budgetless environment. But in Season 7 we got three different scenes of Slayers and/or Watchers around the world being killed, as well as the Council being destroyed. In Season 8... we have the exposition at the front of the book, and Anderson Cooper, basically. The biggest *threat* to the Slayers in this arc came in forms that would have been perfectly believable even if vampires weren't public.
I agree that this arc was the weakest yet even though I really enjoyed this issue.
Willow's spell is "get over here" backwards?

I get the idea of continuing the theme of protecting Dawn, but I'm kinda confused by the cover and also the meaning of the knife lead-in part. How did those pay off?
It's "GET OVA HERE" backwards, and that's actually kinda cute -- nice little shout-out to Zatanna, I assume. And also she said "ova".

Gepetto was basically Buffy's prior attitude about Dawn to its ultimate conclusion -- an old guy who, apparently noticing she was an actual doll, absconded with her to protect her and keep her "safe" from ever being broken, like the dolls he had made. So that's what that was about.
"Kinda reinforces the idea that the Slayers are so large in number perhaps they're becoming their own worst enemy."

Have we been reading the same season 8? The one i've been reading has made that painfully obvious for months
It's "GET OVA HERE" backwards, and that's actually kinda cute -- nice little shout-out to Zatanna, I assume.

And coulda been far cornier: I once saw a comic back in the early 70s which used "In-a-gadda-da-vida" as a spell. I've often wondered if it was a deliberate gag, or if the author was just one of the dumbasses who actually thought that was some sort of mystical chant...
Well, we're not in Kansas any more, Dorothy. We're not even in Sunnydale. We are in a comic. And that is the level of writing I have seen in this arc. No resonance whatsoever. I never thought Buffy could bore me, but here we are.
And Dawn finally learns that she doesn't have to be the damsel in distress to have Buffy's attention and love, that she's her sister and will always have her love (Buffy's working on the attention part of it).

Certainly not denying that things happened. I'm just not sure it's enough to justify stringing the denouement out for two years in audience time. Especially since it turns out that when Buffy really gets worried she can set in motion events that quickly lead to the end of the spell. Why wait 24 issues when it could easily have been done in 2 or 3? There's nothing I can see in the plot that demands such a delay. Indeed, it creates a bit of uncertainty in me about how to read it. It looks to me like Buffy gratuitously let Dawn suffer for longer than she needed to, yet the story resolves as though the delay is just not an issue. So I don't know what the dramatic pay off is. I'm not saying there's a problem with the story itself. Just that it feels like a very odd way to tell this particular story. And since there is no obvious reason for the story to have stretched out so long and then suddenly resolve one starts to think it was stretched out because we wanted Dawnzilla and jokes about being ridden hard and that sort of thing and it closed out because they didn't know how else to fill up the last issue of this arc. You know how common those sorts of complaints are. As of this issue, I've got nothing to say but, yup, that's all it was.

About the apparent non-importance of the giant thing: one of the strengths of the show is about how the metaphors work. They spent so long with Dawn the Giant, I expected that to take on some sort of significance. But it didn't. In BtVS it's worth paying attention to details. Apparently that's no longer the right strategy.

[ edited by Maggie on 2009-05-07 03:48 ]
Lots of great things with this issue, but as others have mentioned I was feeling a bit "That's it?" with the way the Dawnie arc wrapped.

The dialogue was killer, Buffy's likeness was spot on in several places, and I loved the Yoda totems most of all. Can't wait for #26...
"The level of writing" you have seen is "comic"? So, "Y: The Last Man", "Ex Machina", "Watchmen"?

The "Dawn the Giant" as unimportant thing made plenty of sense to me. Is there something analogous to which your referring when you say that a detail like that has to signify? Surely there have been inconsequential details plenty of times. It didn't signify, for instance, that Giles became a F'yarl demon, just that he became a demon.

I took the fact that Dawn was *instantly* freed of the spell when she apologized as evidence that, unless one expected Buffy to go Jack Bauer on Kenny, she had to get to that place and apologize. And, the point was for her to get to that place and apologize, so it makes no sense that they'd have circumvented it. There's nothing Buffy could have done differently without them abandoning the entire arc for Dawn and set up for the conversation both with Kenny and with Buffy.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-05-07 04:35 ]

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2009-05-07 04:38 ]
The thing that strikes me is that every issue of this arc could have been handled better as an arc in itself - or, since everyone loves saying it, full television episodes. They certainly needed more than 22 pages to get their point across without the flaws people have been noticing.
I can't believe that nobody has mentioned the Xander speaking Spike talk in this issue. That's at least 3 times now that one character sounds like another character. Can't blame this one on the writer not knowing better.

I *did* enjoy Xanders reaction to the phrase slipping out. Pretty funny.

Pretty spooky for me when Buffy said she loves her sister to death. Also couldn't help but think of what Buffy was thinking in season 7, concerning Angel and Spike, when listening to Dawn offer Kenny an explanation of why she slept with the other guy.

This issue was o.k. but I can't wait for the next one. Oz! Yay.
Xander speaking like Spike wasn't done unintentionally this time. The gag was pretty obvious.
How so? If you don't mind sharing.
I didn't really see a deliberate Spike reference there, personally -- the gag seemed pretty self-contained as he immediately mentioned he can hate himself in British. Spike doesn't have a trademark on that word. It wasn't a writing mistake at all -- read the next panel.

I think the Dawn/Kenny as Buffy Season 7 allegory is some Olympic-caliber stretching, but it's your $2.99 :) It doesn't help that Dawn's explanation is completely ridiculous and doesn't actually explain much. It amounts to "I banged your roommate because it would have been too emotionally intense to bang you". What is he supposed to do with that, precisely? (aside from shove it up his thricewise butt, since Kenny sucks)
The "Dawn the Giant" as unimportant thing made plenty of sense to me. Is there something analogous to which your referring when you say that a detail like that has to signify? Surely there have been inconsequential details plenty of times. It didn't signify, for instance, that Giles became a F'yarl demon, just that he became a demon.

Well, Giles wasn't a demon for more than half the season. And I think it did make a difference that he got turned into a demon instead of, say, a hamster. (He's got a lot of repressed rage, which comes out better as a demon than as a hamster, for example). Further, if Giles *had* been a demon for more than half of season four, one would hope that the punchline was a bit more than the one they effectively delivered in one episode.

But recognize that my energy on this is mostly that I've been fending off complaints about the interminable Dawn is a giant arc by asserting that I expected Joss had something in mind that would pay off such a protracted story. It appears I was wrong. Dawn sat around as a giant or a Centaur for over half the season so that she and Buffy could come to realizations about their motivations and feelings that Xander nailed down almost verbatim in issue #2. I'm still not willing to join the crowd that has written off season 8 as mostly crack!fic. But this was a core part of their argument and I've got nothing to counter it. Assuming this really is the whole deal. (One can hold out hope).
I think Dawn being turned into a giant was a metaphor for hey ďIím freaking huge you canít not notice me!Ē and yetÖ Buffy still didnít. The more I think about it the more the changes were designed to separate Dawn from Buffy and the slayers, so being a giant or a centaur had that effect.

When people spoke of Giles turning into the demon in ĎA New Maní I donít believe they turned him into a demon to convey his inner rage ect. It was to literally make people not understand what he was saying, as seen when Xander canít hear him down in the basement. That was a metaphor for what Giles was feeling in that episode, heís much older and out of touch and no body ďgets him.Ē Same thing for Dawn and her different transformations, they were used to distance her from the others. You could find significance in each thing she does turn into but Iím not sure that was the point.
I really liked the idea that all it took to fix Dawn was for her to apologize.I thought that was a perfect resolution to the whole thing.

I will admit that I'm surprised that this was wrapped up in issue 25 and not closer to the end of season 8 and I do wonder what role Dawn will have now but I think her and Buffy are in a much better place now.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-05-07 09:18 ]

I think Dawn being turned into a giant was a metaphor for hey ďIím freaking huge you canít not notice me!Ē and yetÖ Buffy still didnít.


Wow, I think that may be the best example given of a Joss metaphor in a long long time.
I never thought Buffy could bore me, but here we are.

I have to agree with you, Dana5140. The last truly satisfying arc I can remember was Wolves at the Gate. Since then, the overall entertainment value has dribbled to a trickle.
Yes. KOC, I am not denigrating comics like Watchmen, etc. I am denigrating this one, because it is just a comic, and nothing more any more. It is a poor continuation of the Buffy world, compared to the TV show. This arc was fairly silly to me, and the storyline has been for some time. The story nows uses only comic conventions, it has a lack of direction, and if this was my only introduction to Buffy, I would never have any interest in the show at all. It is simply what we are being given, but the magic is gone.

Thanks, 1starbuckstown, BTW, my town has 5. :-)
I am denigrating this one

And this is new in what way...?
Maybe the very-simple-solution-to-the-manifestly-complex-problem is a metaphor about relationship issues. A few minutes honest, tender communication resolves a problem that, absent said honest, tender communication, will fester and erupt repeatedly in wildly different (and quite inconvenient) ways.

And, yay, the character named Ken didn't have to die! He was hideous and vengefully jealous (or jealously vengeful) but not totally death-needing! To review this issue from a narrowly Ken-centric perspective.

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-05-07 16:32 ]
He was hella creepy in his thricewise form. So very glad the cover makeouts did not occur. He was quite pretty in human form. Buffy trope I guess. Both in terms of pretty monsters and not-so-monstrous monsters.
A "lack of direction"? That is, to me, a completely baseless charge. "Vampires in public", as a concept, may have been carried off rather badly so far, but "directionless"? Nonsense on its face. Not only is that, in itself, a direction, driving the plot and the characters like cattle in a chute, it is tied directly to a clearly identifiable theme running throughout the season of the Slayers (or more precisely, Whitehats with inclinations toward the supernatural in general) as possibly unwanted protectors of mankind.

Now, you may not like that direction, but it obviously is a direction.

And what, precisely, is a "comic book convention"? For TV conventions, I can go to TVTropes and see the "TV conventions" of which the televised seasons were guilty. As far as I can tell, the only thing Season 8 isn't doing that the televised seasons did is follow the "Buffy Formula"*. You know, the completely formulaic and obvious-once-its-described template that the televised seasons followed? So, A) what is an example of a "comic book convention" and B) how is it completely dissimilar from what was done in the televised seasons?

*Season 8 may yet still follow the Buffy Formula, but right now suffers from lack of a "Little Bad", unless that is meant to be Amy and Warren. The "Traitor" is a foregone conclusion textually, and hopefully (to me) just refers to Riley, since I think Big Scooby Treason would alienate more fans than the Big Scooby Death did in Season 6.
Nice issue, especially nice dialogue and nice art. But I'm a bit underwhelmed. I had bought into the "Twilight big reveal" speculations and...whoops! Even if the "inside man" thing with Andrew turns out to be foreshadowing (I'd hope not. I like Andrew as a scoobie), it doesn't qualify. And if this is all there is to it to the Dawn's arc I'm, again, underwhelmed.

Oh, I'd like to state for the record that I think Kenny is a big ass.
Hiya, KOC- this one I am not going to take up. This comic is no better than Runaways right now, imho. It's just a comic and it fails to move me at all. I have no investment in anything happening in it. I think I'll stay off this thread and let the ones who do enjoy it discuss it. ;-)
Has anyone anywhere seen a spoiler with something that looks like an angelic Tara?
Go back to #10, where Dawn explains that she had dated Kenny for 2 months before having sex with his roommate. Xander asks how the roommate presented himself and concludes the guy was akin to Parker. But the roommate isn't punished. Dawn didn't commit a crime, and Kenny has no right to her. Nevertheless, he puts a spell on her, affecting her for months and endangering her life. And then she has to apologize to him? Gag. I think she still has something to learn about relationships: When a man physically abuses you, don't assume it's all your fault.

But, um, I still really enjoyed the issue.
@Suzie: you know, it reminds me of the Buffy/Riley "resolution" in S5.

He's the big insecure selfish jerk who pouts when she leaves him all patched-up to go check on her sick mother (after having moved heaven and earth to save him from his own stupidity), never once thinks of confronting her about the problems he perceives in their relationship, puts her friends in danger, puts himself in danger, lies, (metaphorically) cheats, and yet it's Buffy the show seems to mostly hold responsible for the break-up, with Xander's speech, the helicopter run and subsequent episodes.

And when he shows up again, does he apologize? Nope, Buffy does. At least Dawn has some real fault of her own (which doesn't justify what Kenny did)...but Buffy? Oh, yeah, she didn't love him enough. *rollseyes*

[ edited by nyrk on 2009-05-08 05:32 ]
It was a cute issue; it didn't really seem adequate as a resolution to a season-long plotline, and yes the fact that this has been strung out for two years to lead to a fairly obvious, if welcome, sister-bonding resolution, is a bit frustrating. (And yes, Buffy knew all this in issue two. Remember: it was dream-Xander and not Xander-Xander who elucidated the "let's get Buffy's attention!" point.) But the fact that it ends with Dawn and Buffy both acknowledging the necessity of Buffy's distance does seem like a real step forward though: previously Buffy's alternated between ignoring Dawn and promising desperately to give her the world, and so for the two to reach an understanding that maybe Buffy can be Dawn's sister but probably can't be what she wants to be for her is pretty cool.

Kenny: Is just an abusive jerk. Wow. I feel a bit like Dawn's lack of anger towards him has to do with his demon-ness though; maybe thricewises are soulless, and Dawn's reaction may be a little like Buffy's after discovering Spike's demon eggs: "It's you. I should have remembered." I don't like that Dawn apologized because it furthered the "abused women are at fault," but I don't mind it that much within the context of the story because it seemed to be more about herself, and admitting what she did was wrong, rather than suggesting that he had a right to react the way he did.

The situation with the toymaker desperate to keep Dawn "safe" seemed underdeveloped--I guess it's meant as an alternative to Buffy's kind-of neglect. I'm not sure I get it. Will reread.

This arc has overall been disappointing in comparison to the usual quality of season eight, which I've enjoyed for the most part. The individual issues were okay, but there is a lack of narrative urgency, after Jane's Harmony issue (which I quite liked). This was probably the best of the lot, and left me with warm cozies amongst some disappointment. I'm hoping that the next few arcs step things up a notch.
Couple of observations:

1) I think these comics, like Shakespeare's plays, are better performed than read only silently to oneself. That's part of the challenge in giving life to these stories: The speeches need actors! I'm no actor, but I can put forward serviceable line readings to my five-year-old son, to whom I faithfully read each new issue. It's become a welcome father-son bonding ritual that both of us enjoy (I edit out some of the "adult themes"). I didn't get much out of Living Doll when I first read it to myself. But last night I read it aloud to my son, and it was much better! I have found that to be generally the case.

2) Are the "dollhouse" aspects in Living Doll a shout-out, a whispered self-reference, or a completely unintentional and therefore meaningless coincidence?
The story was a little bit too Fables for me but I loved the Buffy/Xander dialogue and enjoyed the Wesleyan shout out.
Suzie nyrk WilliamTheB : I see your point in that Dawn can't be blamed for Kenny's willfully abusive actions. But the fact remains she did what she did, and in and of itself an apology is approrpriate. His later actions inr esponse to it are his fault, not Dawn's but his reaction doesn't change the fundamental anture of what she did.
As long as her apology does not place him back into a position to abuse her again, does not empower him again, her apology is not wrong and is good for her own karma. (And thinking this thru gives me an improved perspective on the tremendous hurts that have been doen to me in the past. I think maybe now I can apologize to anyone for thsoe things in which I honestly failed and mis-did, no matter how much of a monster they have chosen to be. Thanks, Steve, I've been needing this lesson for a while.)

From the practical side, if all Dawn has to do to get herself out of the loop she's been in is to say two words, she'd be foolish not to.

And again, I have to defend Riley. What he really wanted was to be there for Buffy with all the things happening to her. She needed someone to lean on at times, it was too much for one person, he was willing, and she wouldn't share her grief. Being needed by your s.o. is a part of a relationship anyone has a right to expect.
DaddyCat, I do actually agree with you about Dawn--I think that the message could be interpreted as being Dawn thinking that she deserved what she got, and that is my objection. But otherwise, it works okay--Dawn's apology to me seemed to be less than self-loathing overall. As I said, it reminded me of Buffy's apologizing to Spike for the way she treated him, even though he was, like Kenny, a monster. (And Spike got better!)

On another note: it is odd/frustrating that no one made any effort to find Kenny before this issue. Maybe Dawn absolutely forbade them? But since when would that stop them? If Buffy's too busy, why not Xander? Why now? Etc. I've generally operated under the assumption that the reason no one has been unbiggening Dawn is because the magic was simply inpenetrable and expected to be temporary; if getting a hold of Kenny was always an option, um, yeah, why not?

(And also: I was under the impression that the centaur was the second of three, but apparently there were more after the doll phase, via Kenny. Am I misremembering?)

I think that the Dawn plotline has led to some good moments--with Buffy in "The Long Way home," Willow in "No Future For You," and Xander in "Anywhere But here" and "Time of Your Life"--but I do agree that the metaphor didn't really connect, besides maybe the "I WANT BUFFY'S ATTENTION!" which is not so terrific--I mean, not everything about Dawnie is about Big Sis.

But in case it doesn't sound like it: I *did* like the issue. :)

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2009-05-08 18:33 ]
I think the "Twilight" turning point may have been an editing mistake.

Remember how, when the series first started, they talked about having a subtitle other than "Season 8" after the first few arcs? I think it was supposed to be "Twilight", but they pulled the plug on it at the last moment because Stephanie Meyers' Twilight had quickly come into the spotlight.

So behind the scenes, they might still use "Twilight" as the title of the season as a whole. And if you look at it like that, Allie was saying it was a turning point in the season, because Dawn is returned to her normal self for the first time.

Just a guess.
Or, y'know, maybe Kenny's Twilight. :-)

Not sure this would make sense or have the necessary emotional resonance . . . but it would make a lot more sense than any of the other available male characters. And would make this whole subplot really important.
I don't get my issue for another 10 days, Wahhhhhhhhhhh. But i saw the preview cover for #26. OZ OZ OZ OZ. If it's on the cover it has to be in the book. Thats the rule. So i have no comment on 25 (cause i havnt got it yet) but Oz oz oz oz. Yay
Now I've read it, sweet enough.
Doug Petrie, come back! One issue was not enough!

Ah, great 'character' issue. If this were an episode, it'd be one of the gems.
A comment for those who do not like the pacing of the comics. I suggest skipping the individual comics for a while at a time, and then read one story-arch ("episode") at a time. Buffy benefits alot from reading the archs as bigger units, though granted it does not suffer from the single comic reading quite as much as Angel does. When I got Wolves at the Gate, I read the whole comics in one go. Boy was it better that way, I can't wait for the full buffy marathon of s1-s8.

Another comment, I read this discussion and regretted it. I kind of assumed the spoiler tag would be for the conversations regarding this issue, not generic all-you-can-spoil permit. People talk and wonder about Twilight, commenting spoilers leaked to the web which I for one had managed to avoid; spoiler about covers of #26 (minor, but still unnecessary), etc. It would be really nice to keep these topics purely on the story-so-far. I'm sure the guessing game is fun, but guessing game with insights from spoilers (and repetition of those), not so nice.

Liked the issue, though it clearly was a mid-season filler focusing on taking a deep breath, doing some character development, and slowly getting ready for the inevitable end-of-season madness.
I do what Eerikki recomends. All of Joss's stuff is like that, one by one its ok, but put it down for a while, come back and read or watch a whole arc and its amazing the different levels that suddenly pop out and you see how clever the writers and story ideas all are.
And sorry if i spoiled any shock over cover #26. Is the cover pic not at the end of 25? They usually are.
Dunno, I torrent the comics and those at least don't have it. But yep, that was something I would not even had mentioned if the comment wasn't among the last ones, so freshly on my mind. Minor, minor. (And yes, I do buy the paperbacks, so no, I don't feel bad about previewing them in the torrent format).
cool, my bad. still getting to know the netickit,(and how to spell stuff aparently).
Actually, the cover for #26 isn't actually at the end of this issue. The cover for next month's Tales of the Vampires one-shot is, so...it woulda ruined it for him anyway, haha.

Was not crazy about this issue. It had its moments. The Xander/Buffy conversations were fun; the little tree thing that Buffy tried to interrogate was modeled on the one character from Yellow Submarine, Georges' second Beatles shout-out in S8; and I really like that Dawn is normal-sized again and has made up with Buffy.

But it was all just so...underwhelming. This whole arc has been. I'm thinking it's Buffy's "First Night," an arc of seemingly isolated stories (though Angel had a lot more of them in "First Night") that doesn't hold together nearly as well as a full-blown story arc. I'm glad that this arc is behind us and that we can get to "Retreat," which I have been waiting for for a long time. Oz!

It's a shame that we have to wait until July, but hey, I guess we get the mini consolation prize of that one-shot next month.
I also found this the best of the 'Predators & Prey' arc (not that arc is the word I would choose to describe a series of somewhat crappy oneshots). I was also expecting there to be only 3 stages to Dawn's transformation, maybe it was just the name 'Thricewise' that put me on that scent, but yeah, nice resolution. As someone else mentioned it was a bit weird how they're suddenly only now interested in Kenny, maybe it's just because Dawn had gone missing and was potentially in danger.

The only real problem I have with this issue is the continued random fairy tale creatures living in the Scottish woodlands (I mean, does Scotland even have any woodland?) Might be more plausible if they'd set it somewhere in remote Eastern Europe.

And my god I'm so desperate to have some Willow/Buffy bonding! I miss Willow so much, she's been entirely separate from Buffy and Xander the whole season, any major screen time she's had has been fighting with Buffy or stuff with other slayers. I'm hoping they're going to get more into Willows mystic walkabout soon and generally have her deal with some magic issues. I care about that way more than Twilight's reveal.

And to echo Eerikki, I too would appreciate easing up on the future cover spoilers. I actually avoid looking at them in the comic a lot of the time, and it's not just been in this thread, I think before Harmony cropped up again there was a lot of spoilery talk about her appearance cus people had seen the covers. And on the same topic, avoiding current plot discussions for Angel:ATF would also be appreciated as I've yet to start reading them.
Angel: After the Fall is over, so no worries there, digupherbones.
Scotland has woodland. Glens. Great glens. And fairies but no wolves any more.
So having been very frustrated with month-long waits between issues I stopped reading these so I could read a pile at once. I just read 20-25 right now. Wow; how completely underwhelming. I thought Jeff Loeb's little story was wonderful; well-written, funny, touching and making me very nostalgic both about early Buffy and my own highschool years.

But every issue after that was a massive let-down. The jokes mostly weren't funny; most issues ended with some rather trite resolution; there was virtually no insight into any characters (it looked like we might have got a bit about Faith's past but then that was dropped); and the vampires-made-public story was very badly handled. This was not worth that 6-month wait.

Maybe I'll go and reread issue 20 ...

See you all in 5 months. Oz!!
And I just read the two Myspace stories. Jane Espenson's was horrible (how can such a great TV writer write a comic this mediocre?) but I did think Steven DeKnight's strange little story was very funny and entertaining
Let Down, aside from the Latina gang slayer that got killed by Harmony, the scenes involving her, I don't think Jane Espenson contributed anything worthwhile to this arc. Was a big let down for me too.

Issue #25

Nice, there was even precedent for this (a demon that can turn/curse a human into a doll--"The Puppet Show"). This was the best of the one-offs, IMO, right behind the Kennedy/Satsu issue I guess (although I've a soft spot for the pointless cartoon/dream issue too, #20 I think, the one right after "Time of Your Life"). I even felt a little bad for Kenny (nothing justifies what he did to Dawn, but I can forgive a trickster demon for getting all jilted lover and getting back by trying to teach a lesson, even if that's incredibly immature and can't-let-go-ish). Interesting that Dawn was with a demon she knew looked like that and was okay with it (aside from getting scared off by the prospect of intense tentacle-sex). I wonder if Kenny could physically transform into a human-shaped guy, or if it was just a glamor. Wonder if Kenny was actually a teenaged version of his species of demon. Seemed so.

Mention of Rescue Dawn ! Beautiful (and terrible) film. Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies (Daniel Faraday from Lost) were all excellent.

Calling Dawn a "ho". No. Yes, the proper way to respect everyone's feelings is to break up with who you're currently with before you sleep with or start a relationship with someone else, but Dawn's in college and (no I'm not about to say that excuses it) as far as we know this is the first time she's done something like that. It does not make her "slutty" (another lame word--enjoying sex, even if it's with multiple partners and potentially a continuous stream of them, isn't a crime). People are way too hung up on the sex thing. Kenny was hurt, he lashed out, he was in the wrong (but I don't know what social mores might be like for his species, so it's hard to pass judgement on him from a purely human perspective, but since that's all I've got, eh). Dawn hurt Kenny's feelings, but that's not illegal. Disregarded his feelings, yes. Mean at the time. But it doesn't justify or qualify her for hurling immature bitchy teenager terms at her like "ho". And we saw her feel bad about it, so it's not like her heart's made of stone.

Sex is fun. But it also leads to interpersonal dynamics/relationships getting messy sometimes. But it doesn't require the judgy responses to emerge, especially not when people are still figuring it all out in their 20s.
I don't know what social mores might be like for his species, so it's hard to pass judgement on him from a purely human perspective . . .

Good point. Do we even know if the spell was intentional? I mean, we still don't know what a "thricewise" is exactly--the curse could've been an unintentional result of his negative feelings, or an unforseen side-effect of a spell gone wrong (a la Willow in "Something Blue"). (Not trying to justify it necessarily, but we still may not know the whole story, and I'm not ready to say Kenny's evil. And I for one wouldn't hate to see more of him.)

Interesting that Dawn was with a demon she knew looked like that and was okay with it

Also a good point, and not one I had really thought through . . . but given the number of demons and monsters she's seen her whole life, makes sense that a few tentacles wouldn't faze her. Could be there's even a (subconscious) desire to one-up Buffy--Dawn can't outdo her sister in any other way, so where Buffy dated demons, Dawn dates a freaky-looking demon. :-)

(ETfix HTML)

[ edited by erendis on 2009-05-18 02:51 ]
I have a problem with issue 25. Maybe with a reread it will become clear but perhaps someone can explain it to me. I thought we knew that Dawn would have 3 transformations and then turn human (and I love how this explains the term Thricewise) but then Kenny started talking about how she would have kept having transformations unless she'd said sorry. Does this make sense to anyone else?

I really get the sense that Joss Whedon is not as enthused about season 8 as he was and isn't giving it much attention. He's gone from talking about it at every chance he can get to hardly ever mentioning it. And he's gone from saying he'll write the final arc to saying he might get someone someone else to do it. Scott Allie has said that it's been very difficult to discuss stuff with Joss. And given how bad issues 21-25 were I seriously wonder whether Joss even read the scripts

Sex is fun. But it also leads to interpersonal dynamics/relationships getting messy sometimes. But it doesn't require the judgy responses to emerge, especially not when people are still figuring it all out in their 20s.

Absolutely. The very word 'slutty' really irritates me. It is, of course, only applied to girls.
I did, by the way, enjoy the callback to 'The Puppet Show' that you mention, Kris
Yeah, I think they might've goofed on the three-transformation Thricewise thing too. Unless...was "Dawn will only go through three forms" something solely mentioned in the letters column by Scott Allie, or was it acknowledged by the characters in that first arc of the season ? I can't remember. If it was just in the letter column, no big deal, they simply spoiled that she'd halt at form #3 way early in the series. If it was in the actual text of the book...maybe Xander, Willow, Buffy, Dawn, or whoever else mentioned it was simply uninformed ? If that's the case, that's my fanwank.

Scott Allie got asked a question about it in the recent Q&A, the same one you've asked, but he didn't understand what the question-asker was saying and goofed on the response.

Maybe Joss has just been quiet because he's super-busy with Dollhouse, worrying about Dollhouse, and Cabin In The Woods. Plus this current arc of the comics maybe had no involvement from him, just a basic outline of what was allowable for the other writers to play with and the few beats the story had to hit before Jane's arc and his next arc. Maybe he just left Scott Allie to run things for 5 or 6 months. Maybe he is embarrassed of the quality of "Predators and Prey". Who knows. Doubt we'll hear of it. I wouldn't say Joss is especially narcissistic about his work, but he also rarely admits fault or lets us in on what he didn't think was executed all that well (perhaps because he would often have to bash one of his writers' work to do so). I mean aside from everyone in the fandom calling him out on the very big mistake he made with Warren and him freely admitting that he screwed up, I can't remember many mistakes in the history of his franchises that he's copped to.
Unless...was "Dawn will only go through three forms" something solely mentioned in the letters column by Scott Allie, or was it acknowledged by the characters in that first arc of the season?

The reference to three transformations came from Xander mentioning that "Willow's pretty sure we know the parameters". In other words, their best guess at the time.
Yeah, it was definitely said. I thought it was Buffy saying it but it probably was Xander

Maybe he is embarrassed of the quality of "Predators and Prey". Who knows. Doubt we'll hear of it. I wouldn't say Joss is especially narcissistic about his work, but he also rarely admits fault or lets us in on what he didn't think was executed all that well (perhaps because he would often have to bash one of his writers' work to do so). I mean aside from everyone in the fandom calling him out on the very big mistake he made with Warren and him freely admitting that he screwed up, I can't remember many mistakes in the history of his franchises that he's copped to.

I think he's happy enough to criticise his own work but doesn't like to criticise what others working on his shows have done. I remember one time he was asked to name a big mistake the show made and he said he didn't want to rag on anything anyone else had done but said one personal mistake he made was having Robin Wood just telling Buffy over dinner that he was Nikki's son ('that's just bad storytelling, bro'). I can think of a fair few other examples of him criticising his own stuff but none on continuity type issues. And I think that's for the best. I'd prefer if we're just left to fanwank it where we can. It's not really helpful for a showrunner to come out and admit mistakes in continuity (too much picking it apart and breaking its heart)

But, yeah, I'm sure he won't criticise Predators and Prey even if he doesn't like it

On the subject of continuity, I just realised a big mistake I'd never noticed before (I'm probably a bit slow on this one). We know that Sunnydale has a beach and docks. So how the hell is it in a desert? I'm really not someone who gets too bothered by continuity mistakes but this one seems pretty huge. Anyone got any brilliant ways to fanwank it? Maybe there was a really bad drought beginnig just after we saw the beach in 'Buffy vs Dracula'
Was it always presented as a desert town ? I know there is a barren desert area pretty close by when Buffy goes on her spirit walk (with the cougar and meeting a vision of The First Slayer at the campfire) in Season 5, plus it sure looked like the town was in the middle of nowhere when we saw a sort of far-off shot of the town falling into the ground in "Chosen", but...sand dunes can exist alongside beaches, or not too far off, can't they ? I mean, aren't parts of the desert in Africa pretty close to the coast ?

"Go Fish" and "Buffy vs. Dracula" showed the ocean the most, right ?

It's possible the boundries of the town were just really spread out and that the ocean was a bit of a drive.

The geography of Sunnydale didn't always make sense in my head anyway.

Also, re: Joss criticizing his own work, I eat my words. The recent article about Dollhouse's renewal had him making constructive criticism.
There are several kinds of deserts, including coastal deserts. But Sunnydale is Santa Barbara with creative embellishments, which means it's close to the coast with a Mediterranean climate and within day trip distance of a desert of the dry type, the Mojave.

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