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November 11 2010

(SPOILER) Buffy Season 8 #39 six page preview. Courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

So that does seem to confirm that Angel is very much possessed, right? I mean, that's what I inferred from the 'cosmic vengeance' line.
Xander to nobly sacrifice himself?
The shit hath hitteth the fan. Awesome. Loved the slashtastic Spike line.

[ edited by gossi on 2010-11-11 23:38 ]
*meep*

Also, am deliberately misinterpreting the slashtastic Spike line in order to preserve peace of mind.
Spike sure loves the word "Christ" in this issue,
Man,next issue is going to be intense.I'm actually scared to read it based off of everything we know about it.
What is happening in that last panel? Did they fall before and Angel is jumping back up?
I think Angel just slammed Buffy down to the ground. The point of impact is marked by the ring around Angel's hands, whereas Buffy hitting the ground is a lot messier, with flying debris.

[ edited by wenxina on 2010-11-12 00:18 ]
That stood out to me, too, Pat. Had he ever even used that word on the show? *scratches head*

Regardless, I flailed at the "I liked it better when you were kissing" and the "It's finally happening... Angel gets the girl" lines. ('Cause I'm a sucker for slash, I'm a sucker for indications that Spike still loves the Buffster, and I'm a sucker for underdogs.)

ETA: ...and irony. :D

[ edited by Enisy on 2010-11-12 00:21 ]
Meh, color me underwhelmed so far. I expected something much worse actually. Like Buffy not realizing what is happening with Angel. Poor thing her. Cosmic vengeance my behind - what for? Titling the balance too much to the side of good maybe? The slasher-Spike lines were humorous, but once again underwhelming and , honestly, could he ever forget about his insecurities and concentrate on the world ending?
Looks like a rock'em, sock'em climactic episode; this is going to be like the end of Season Five.
I don't know if we are supposed to take the bait that Xander is about to do something major a lá betrayal but it really looks that way. He's been Buffy's closest friend and confidante this season so it makes perfect sense.

This issue is gona hurt so much. Seriously.

Did anyone else feel that the writing was very disjointed? I had to go back and read the panels a few times...they didn't quite flow like they normally do.
Oh wow!! I am officially DELIGHTED that this has got to the big battle. I mean it's been building up since he first beat up Buffy and Satsu and now they're on equal footing. I sense some epic on its way here!

Oh and the Spike line...hmmm, uncomfortable! I know they keep illuding to it, but it seems odd to mention it when he's burning up. Like the last time he was about to be set on fire it was all Buffy, this time it's Angel? just saying. Oh and what did he mean "Angel gets the girl"? Kinda looked like the least romantic getting I've ever seen.

And Xander losing faith in Buffy? Damn! Now she's seriously screwed!
Yeah, Kean, I lost track of the voiceovers a couple of times and had to read it again so I could get all of the speakers straight.
Awesome preview!

Jeanty really managed to make that fight epic and exciting and I love all of the chaos going on in the background.

It took me a few minutes to realise that Buffy’s “I liked it better when you were kissing” was a reference to her dream in Always Darkest (yay! I love that issue!) and Buffy's "Oh god" at the sight of Spike about to die should hopefully settle anybody wondering if she still cares for him.

The actual moment where Angel lifts Spike into the sun was very cool and I loved his line -- "Spike, the sun hasn't set yet. Your story ends now" -- which continues the imagery of Twilight and the setting sun that has cast over the entire season.

And Xander... oh Xander :( It really is the end for you, isn't it? I think he's about to do something huge that'll cost him dearly.

That was an epic preview!! I can't wait for this issue!
From this preview, Willow is clearly going to do her best to protect the Seed from Twilight, although it is still unclear how she and the Master will fare against Angel/Twilight. Spike appears to be out of commission for the rest of the episode, and Faith has her hands full fighting demon hordes. It all boils down to what Xander and Giles will do to snatch victory from defeat. It increasingly looks like at least one of them will destroy the Seed and end magic by the end of this issue.
Spike's lines seem actually pretty straightforward: "Finally chosen a side" = the last battle (remember Angel asking Spike to do what would be neccessary - and Spike's trying. But alas! When gods battle...;-)
Actually, notice that Buffy's line was "Oh God." That particular combination of italics and punctuation spells far more eye-rolling sarcasm over what Angel just said than terrified concern for Spike's life, to me. Her dialogue in the next panel reinforces that as well.
The fact that Jeanty chose to have Giles holding a stake and a crossbow in his cover for the issue leads me to suspect that it will be Giles rather than Xander who ends up destroying the Seed and possibly dying in the process.
By that logic, Edward Cullen should have been Twilight based on his cover for issue #36.
Uh? Edward Cullen IS Twilight. ;-)
Xander is on the surface with Dawn and will have a difficult time getting back down the crater with all the fighting going on. The last we saw of Giles was him leaving Buffy and Spike at the entrance of the cave in the crater in #38, so he is in the best position to do something about the Seed if he has something up his sleeve.
I think Angel just slammed Buffy down to the ground. The point of impact is marked by the ring around Angel's hands, whereas Buffy hitting the ground is a lot messier, with flying debris.

Thanks, that makes sense. So that CRUNCH is... Buffy? Yikes.

From this preview, Willow is clearly going to do her best to protect the Seed from Twilight, although it is still unclear how she and the Master will fare against Angel/Twilight. Spike appears to be out of commission for the rest of the episode, and Faith has her hands full fighting demon hordes. It all boils down to what Xander and Giles will do to snatch victory from defeat.

Whatever Giles has planned, it involves Faith. I'm not so sure Willow is doing what we've been led to believe she's doing. Spike is Spike, he'll be back in it. I do think the Seed's destruction and ending it all involves some combination of Giles and Xander though.
What was Giles' comment about the Master being like Dracula about? Is he insinuating that the Master will double-cross her because, really that would not be very surprising.
Also, I'm interested in Spike's comment: "Ah Christ, it's finally happening..." Was he talking about Buffy and Angel being together in a romantic sense or a Twilighty sense?
"Also, I'm interested in Spike's comment: "Ah Christ, it's finally happening..." Was he talking about Buffy and Angel being together in a romantic sense or a Twilighty sense?"

He could also be saying that he is finally dying and just stating the obvious, that Angel will be left for Buffy.
That would be a pretty lame ending for Spike.
The shipping? Not at all subtle, and not allowed here. Take it elsewhere please.
I'm sorry, I didn't think I was shipping.

[ edited by luv4whedon on 2010-11-12 02:11 ]
I hope I'm wrong in thinking that Xander was directly underneath the point where Buffy impacted the ground, meaning that she just killed him...

(Also - anyone think the repeated reference to Dracula might mean that he appears in the finale?)
Giles lines are, I think, are a memory - they are the exact lines that Giles says to Buffy in the previous issue - I would make a cautious guess that it is Giles himself that is recalling them as he's about to do whatever it is that he left Buffy to do and even though it will 'help' her, it will not be popular (or even 'good') and may even mean allying with someone worse than The Master, someone worse than Dracula... (and, at the moment, the only person I see 'worse' than those two is Angel (in his present state), though that idea only brings more ???). But Giles has always been the man to make the hard decisions and do what has to be done.
It would be cool if Dracula did show up but I'm thinking that won't happen. There's too much going on.

All I can say is .. what I wouldn't give to hear that kissing line spoken by SMG. :)

I have to admit, this preview makes #39 look like it's going to be impressive.
Also - anyone think the repeated reference to Dracula might mean that he appears in the finale?

I wondered that too. But, as menomegirl says, there's so much going on that I really don't know how he'd fit into the story. It is peculiar that he's been mentioned twice now though.
Jeanty is overlapping the thoughts and voices of Spike, Buffy and Xander in the last few panels, which makes me think that Giles is having a conversation with someone and telling that person the same thing that he told to Buffy about alliances. It could be Willow or someone else entirely different.
ooooh this is so good! Very excited to read the issue! I enjoyed this few pages more than the whole last issue I think! I was interested in the Giles foreshadow/flashback too... mysterious! And I was happy to see Spike re-united with his bugs! I think Spike/bugs/ship (the spaceship! no shipping here!) is very promising for exciting Spike action (in the fight! not that kind of action!), and just generally interesting.

I feel like Spike saying "it's finally happening..." was about the fact that Buffy and Angel are fighting as equals and he can't compete with that now. That was always the basis of him and Buffy's sexual relationship (ie, her starting to have sex with him only after realizing the chip didn't work on her) and he- whether or not it's true (I think yes)- perceives that physically equality as a necessary part of Buffy's sexuality. So from his point of view, her and Angel are basically having sex in this scene.

Not saying that tells us anything about where all this is going, and I certainly don't think this is going to end with Buffy and anyone walking off into the sunset (or twilight), but that was my read of that line.
Really cool preview pages, I wish we could just have it now!
Did anyone notice that Spike IS wearing the clothes from the cover (with Angel)
I don't know why Spike would be Angel and Angel... Spike but with the call out to Always Darkest, it's a hard thing to overlook. In that issue, Spike and Angel discuss the fact that Buffy can't tell them apart because of the "costumes" they wear. I guess it could be a mistake and Chen got mixed up and drew Angel in Spike's clothes...?

It seems odd that Spike makes a comment about Angel choosing a side rather than changing his mind about a side, which is what the characters might think of Angel and his choices thus far. First he is on the opposing side, now he is on our side, nope he just went back again. I think Spike knows more about what's going on than he is letting on. If not, his choice of words seem strange, based on what he should be thinking.

Buffy's line was also strange in the admittance that it's different now, they can hurt each other. I'm still unsure what's going on but am super interested in finding out.
I have one problem- the griffin says something about how this all occurred when Buffy activated the slayers. Well, really, Willow activated the slayers. It was Buffy's idea, but Willow did it. Just saying.
It was Buffy's idea, though. I think that's what counts according to this, the big Willow the White moment notwithstanding.
As a comics deficient reader, I must admit, I really don't understand most of what I just saw/read.

But as a former Spangel fan, any pleasure from that "mentioned" line was cancelled out by the fact that Angel was trying to kill him at the time. Kinda puts a damper on the fun.

[ edited by Xane on 2010-11-12 04:27 ]
Angel is Twilight and the "green glow" worked like the "white glow" did before, enhancing some existing feelings? Otherwise, I cannot understand why Twilight would know Spike's name and would try to kill him.
I'm just guessing, but I think Faith is going to bring the Scythe down to the seed, and someone w/ the Scythe will break the seed (and it will turn out only the Scythe could break the seed). Willow will inherit some of the seed's power. And because magic will be gone, the Scythe will no longer hold any power. But this will leave Willow frozen in time w/ the seed's power and w/o a Scythe to "break her." This will necessitate Future Willow to bring Buffy and the Scythe to the future (in TOYL), where Buffy kills future Willow with the powered Scythe.

Again...just a guess. I think it's a good guess! But maybe I'm wrong and the story will be much more interesting than that. Question is who will use the Scythe to break the seed?
Wow basuraboi3 that was quite the guess! I like it! So seeing as the seed saps the slayer power, I'm guessing Giles, Xander, Angel or Spike will be the ones to do it. Maybe even Willow herself will have a moment of lucidity and break it? Who knows? I'd rather a woman do it to be honest than to give the epic ending to a male character again. Maybe it will be Faith!! Or wait, in Fray they say Giles(more or less) sacrifices and does away with the bad, right?! Well I still hope it's Faith, she never gets to end the fight!
Oh my god! I totally forgot that "Gates" sacrificed himself at the battle of Starbucks. I'm thinking Giles is going to "betray" Buffy by breaking the seed. I really like the idea of a woman breaking the seed but I get the feeling it'll be Giles, Xander or Spike. I'm leaning towards Giles because it would break my heart the most.
Why is he called Twilight?!? And why do we have a character invented as far back as Season 3 called Dawn? G--Damnit these are the questions that plague me. And if I do not get a satisfying conclusion to them, I will be an angry sci-fi/fantasy fan.

I will, however, be OK if there is an EXTREMELY emotionally satisfying ending without explaining my Dawn/Twilight issue.

...even a sort of vague metaphorical explanation of this issue would help me sleep at night...
History could just as easily confuse "Starbucks" with "Sunnydale" as it does "Gates" with "Giles". =\

[ edited by Matt7325 on 2010-11-12 06:28 ]
I like the idea that Xander's comment in "Chosen" about Sunnydale being a one-Starbucks town was a reference to "Fray."
Maybe Starbucks got sucked down into the crater like that church The Master was in and that's where the Seed is? Oooh hey, maybe the Seed is really just an exotic coffee bean and everyone's tripping out on psychedelic caffeine.
Hahaha! I like it. As an ex-Starbucks barista I would enjoy a story about an all powerful bean that makes people do crazy things. Cuz, really when you think about, it's true.
Even if the Seed is destroyed and we're on course for the Frayverse, that doesn't necessarily mean that we're seeing the fabled "Battle of Starbucks" right now. According to Aluwyn, even if all magicks are banished from this dimension, the Slayers already called will stay Slayers, and vampires will stay vampires. Which means that it could still be years before we get down to the last Slayer before Fray.

It's possible that the magic-banishing happens now, but the Battle of Starbucks is when the last Slayer (maybe Buffy, maybe someone else) dies, and over the years the two events were conflated, or that the records were spotty and made them sound closer in time than they actually were. After all, the historical records Fray has available seem to have no reference at all to the Chosen spell--which means that if the Fray future is, y'know, THE future, those records are unreliable.
I think that first panel is the most brutal thing I've seen in Buffy. I love it!

Angel's lines "Spike the sun hasn't set yet. Your story ends now." was so chilling I actually believed it for half a second, before reality once again took over.

Also, Angel catching a fighter plane and throwing it at Buffy? AWESOME! Wish this could have been filmed.
This time-travel talk by basuraboi3 is actually pretty enlightening. Clearly, there is a reason we met Melaka this season, and I sure as Hell hope it wasn't just to sell issues. And it seems to reason that Future Wilow needs Buffy to kill her for a reason...a reason we still don't know.

Future Dark Willow is NOT an evil figure. She betrayed Harth for a GGOD reason. Willow may still "betray" Buffy, but it may be because Will knows she has to. Or...I didn't think that last part through all the way...
Also, I'm not sure that breaking the Seed = betraying Buffy. True, she's committed to protecting it right now, but that's because she trusts Willow. Also true, we saw Buffy all betrayed with a broken Seed in the background. But ... Buffy doesn't have all the info we have. She doesn't know that breaking the Seed would solve the Twilight-universe problem *and* banish all demons *and* leave all the current Slayers their powers. If she did know all that, I think she'd seriously consider breaking it herself.

I really think Dawn is somehow the key here (and maybe The Key too, though I'm not sure how that would fit in). But ... if breaking the Seed meant that Dawn died or was banished to another dimension? That would make its breakage completely devastating for Buffy. Otherwise I have a hard time seeing why it's Buffy crying over the smashed Seed--seems like it would be Willow.

Unless, of course, Willow decides to go against the instructions of her unreliable guide and destroy the Seed herself--giving up all her magic because she thinks it's the only way to save the world. That would be heartbreaking, and I could see Joss going there ... but I'm not sure it would be a betrayal of Buffy.
This may be a little off topic, but the connection to Giles seems kind of interesting especially in regards to this issue. I am watching "Revelations" right now, and Gwendolyn Post asks Giles if he has "Sir Robert Cane's Twilight Compendium"...

This may be total fanwankage but could be proof that Giles has known about this for a while (instead of the comics only evidence in which he says he did)... or like I said: fanwankage since twilight is a mystical-y sounding word? :)
Well, I really doubt Joss was thinking about the Twilight storyline back in S3. However, that’s not to say he didn’t re-watch that episode and incorporate it into the comic story back in ’07. Regardless, it’s a very nice piece of fanwankage so I’d make it my own personal canon for sure! :)
I noticed that in my own recent rewatch of "Revelations", too.
If Twilight was essentially the Watcher's version of an urban legend, that'd make sense with Gwendolyn's unimpressed reaction to Giles owning a copy, too.
Oh and what did he mean "Angel gets the girl"? Kinda looked like the least romantic getting I've ever seen.

I took it to mean that from Spike's point of view, Angel is finally going to "get" the girl in the sense that Angel's going to kill her.
I'm just guessing, but I think Faith is going to bring the Scythe down to the seed, and someone w/ the Scythe will break the seed (and it will turn out only the Scythe could break the seed).

Or the other possibility is that Xander manages to get the Scythe back down to Giles. In the panel where the fighter jet crashes, a demon has Faith trapped from behind with a head lock while attacked from the front by another demon. Perhaps she is severely injured/killed, and Xander picks up the Scythe from the battlefield.
Faith killed?! NOOOOO!! When did she get thrown about in the possible deaths? This is worse than killing giles!!! *hopes wildly that Joss makes her a big damn hero in the end!
Am I the only one who hated the cosmic vengeance line with a firey passion?

I mean lets get this straight, Buffy deserved the 'space frak'? And now the end of the world? What kind of message is that sending out here? Good grief.

Imo the only vaguely interesting part for me was at the end with Xander. Lets hope that side of things plays out well and doesn't disappoint.
Loved the Spike/Angel slash line and Angel's 'the sun hasn't set yet...', very chilling. I did cringe at Spike's 'scared-hair', though. That's the best he can come up with?

I think wondered about Giles' Twilight line in S3 a while ago, but it hadn't reoccured to me until now. It's definitely possible that Joss went back to it. Even if he didn't, if you just read Buffy as a text on its own (i.e.reader response), I think it's perfectly valid.
I've always thought that Angel being the betrayer would be unlikely, it's just too obvious and to me it does look like this Buffy/Angel fight will continue while someone down in the crater takes matters into their own hands and betrays Buffy. Giles' line reads like part of a conversation - maybe someone knows what he's going to do, he/she might even help him with it.

I wonder if we'll get any answers to this 'Prince' business in this issue?

[EDIT- typos)

[ edited by Shep on 2010-11-12 10:51 ]
Go reader response! Yay shep! :-)

(Personally, I think it is a coincidence here with what Giles said, but hey, reader response...)
I looked over the Always Darkest again - it now occurred to me that Caleb-talk about 'you cannot kill what's inside you' might indicate that Twilight will jump from possessing Angel to possessing Buffy at some point in the fight... Then whoever the betrayer would turn out to be, would be actually betraying Twilight - not her.
I knew you'd like that, Dana5140! :)
The only reason I can think of to repeat Giles' line from the previous issue (about the Master and Dracula) is to suggest that there's another alliance with the big bad coming--or even ON DISPLAY. Maybe Giles, in particular, has allied himself with someone. With Angel? And while I doubt that we're in the realm of lines from s3, I suppose it's possible. Oh God, could Giles have wanted Twilight? Is that what Xander is realizing? I'm not sure if I can think of a way for this to make sense with Giles' character. Oh wow, I'm not sure how this will go.

Also, this preview was amazing. Can. Not. Wait.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2010-11-12 20:13 ]
Has Jo Chen's "Always Darkest" mini-comic been collected in a Season 8 trade yet ? If not, that joke/line of Buffy's is gonna be lost on a whole lotta readers (with only the exchange in Angel Season 5's "The Girl in Question" to explain at least Spike's line in this issue). Monthly readers who didn't bother to check out the extra will also be wondering.

Girl getting ripped in half in the opening title panel, almost didn't look at the page long enough to see it. Ouch. None of the potentials were killed that brutally in Season 7 (though I dunno if UPN would allow that level of gore), but...effective.

Yeah, Spike's "scared-hair" jab was exceedingly lame. I dunno, maybe it was meant to be, like "Spike can't be on-the-ball clever all the time and here's an example", I could fanwank that maybe. But when in doubt Joss or Scott, please just refrain from saddling Spike and most other characters who aren't Andrew with lame dialogue.

I know it's already canon, but cheers to Joss for building up the just-that-one-time Angel/Spike (ordering intentional) a bit more(and yes, possibly Dru & Darla were involved). And hey, there was kissing ! Wouldn't have figured Angelus and evil-Spike for that. Actually...I can't picture it. Maybe it wasn't on the mouth. And was pretty rough and animalistic, rather than what we've seen from male/female vamps so far. I'll stop now.
I looked over the Always Darkest again - it now occurred to me that Caleb-talk about 'you cannot kill what's inside you' might indicate that Twilight will jump from possessing Angel to possessing Buffy at some point in the fight... Then whoever the betrayer would turn out to be, would be actually betraying Twilight - not her.

If that were the case, then it would not fit the ominous description that Scott Allie and others have said about the issue. At this point, Buffy is desperately fighting to keep Angel/Twilight from getting the Seed; the only type of betrayal that would be totally devastating to Buffy would be one made by a very close friend that helps Twilight achieve his goals of obtaining the Seed and destroying our world. I don't see Xander, Faith nor Giles doing that at all. If such a betrayal occurs, then the only way to salvage some sort of victory would be to destroy the Seed. Could such a betrayal be engineered by Willow if the Seed decides instead to ally itself with Twilight through her? Such a turnaround for Willow, who is Buffy's best friend, would be very traumatic to Buffy after losing Angel to Twilight. If so, then perhaps Giles would have to come in to stop Willow/The Seed and die in the attempt. Caleb's statement in Buffy's dream in Always Darkest is an enigma; what exactly is inside Buffy that cannot be killed, and is that the key to her defeating Twilight and whoever betrays her? And how does the dream in Always Darkest fit with the events in Season 8, especially in this final arc?
@Kris, "Always Darkest" is at the very end of the Retreat TPB, after "Harmony Comes to America" which was another online only S8 thing.

@jettamesis, I always thought the 'you can't kill what's inside you' line referred to the demon-ness that is integral to the Slayer's power. Since, you know, irony... the thing to stop the demons is actually partly demon herself. It also reminded me of the whole 'death is your gift' thing, and I think that one-shot was illustrating that Buffy still thinks all she brings with her is death.

[ edited by Cazador on 2010-11-12 22:55 ]
So my next question is why does Caleb even say it in the first panel of Always Darkest? How does realizing that she is part demon help Buffy defeat Twilight? We are missing the context here.
Kris-Yeah, Andrew (Tom) did wonders with lame dialogue. So much so that I couldn't help but like him, despite myself.
Theory. Considerably crackpot.

When Angel was chosen, the Seed revived the Master--Angel's blood ancestor--as its protector. Buffy also has a blood ancestor who died in Sunnydale; when she was chosen for Twilight, a second guardian was raised.

Protecting the Seed was never the right idea; if it's left untouched, it will hatch something terrible and wreak havoc on this world and our heroes. Buffy et al. discover this at the last moment but are unable to prevent it, thanks to the Seed's minions.

The betrayer is Joyce.

"You can always come home again."
"I'm fairly certain I never mentioned..."

Love it!
If Joyce is the betrayal...I dunno. I was okay with her appearance in "Normal Again", but when The First Evil used her I was a little less enthused (even though logically, it would be effective to mess with Dawn like that). If the rules about resurrection in the Buffyverse apply even to the Seed, the source of all magic (apparently), then even it shouldn't be able to resurrect her properly. If she comes back "wrong"(maybe like the apparent zombie-Joyce in the graveyard that Dawn and Doc caused), which was the main reason behind never wanting to attempt to bring back humans who'd died by disease or gunshot, then a betrayal wouldn't weigh much. Not if we're left wondering whether she even has the agency to choose to betray, and that would be doubly in question where the Seed is involved. Look at what it's done recently to The Master and presumably been doing since he felt pulled to the Sunnydale hellmouth from overseas. Not acting of his own accord, not all the time at least.

The guys in "The Zeppo" are the sore sticking point/trace of evidence against the whole coming-back-wrong-from-natural/mundane-death stipulation. I mean they were morons and criminals, but they seemed all right aside from still being dead on the inside. I know it's a comedic/semi-spoof of an episode (from lampooning the frequent apocalypses to Buffy/Angel crying scenes), probably not the best ep to look at for concrete Buffyverse mythology set-up, but it's hard to ignore and it's technically text. If they'd tracked down Zack O'Toole's uncle or grandfather or whoever it was that used voodoo to bring those dudes back, they could've had Joyce, Tara, and Jenny back no problem (whether they'd want to be brought back as living-dead-but-otherwise-functional human beings is another matter). Xander was the only one who knew about it though and I don't remember him overhearing O'Toole talking about how they were brought back, so the missed opportunity there makes sense I guess (still, Willow would know if there's voodoo in the world that can bring people back decently).

I'm glad they never brought anyone back as Zeppo-style intelligent zombie allies, the series needed some good permanent deaths (otherwise, no real stakes other than the occasional threat of global destruction). Can ignore what "The Zeppo" introduced to the mythology in favor of enjoying the well crafted and well acted tragedies of "Passion", "I Was Made To Love You/The Body", "Seeing Red" and the fallout of all those eps.

Sorry, tangent.

I don't wanna see more of Joyce because for me, it undercuts the impact of "The Body" and the end of Season 5 each time she makes a post-death appearance (except in "Normal Again" when it was used to great effect to be part of what tempted Buffy to lose herself in the drugged up hallucination world). You're kind of on edge as a viewer/reader, y'know ? Like when Cordelia(or a PTB-costumed vision of her) reappeared in "After the Fall", or Tara in the Willow one-shot...it's like, "please don't fuck this up, writers", and when they do, you wish they'd left well enough alone.
I could not deal with seeing Joyce as the betrayer, she is gone and it's too tragic to abuse the memory of her. Abuse is what it would be, and a cheap shot!
Ultimately I agree with both of you. The only thing that made me think of Joyce in the first place is that it would be a tragic abuse of her character, and the devastation we've been promised hooks into that nicely. I still can't figure out how any of the options that actually make sense are going to devastate us.

Plus, Jeanty said he doesn't like drawing violence against women, and the content of #39 supposedly upset him a lot. Joyce vs. Buffy, or Angel or Spike, would be very upsetting indeed.

But I'm just yammering. I still don't believe it'll happen, but I wanted it out there just in case. :)
Joyce returning would fit with The Long Way Home ("I miss my mom," the parallel with Amy's Achilles heel being Catherine) and After These Messages (Joyce was absent in Buffy's memory panel). I'm not sure if it could work dramatically, but it's not impossible.

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