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December 14 2011

(SPOILER) Discuss Buffy Season 9 #4. It's the final part of the "Freefall" arc, find out what what Joss and Andrew have in store for us.

And remember, please link to detailed summaries of this issue rather than posting the summaries themselves in the comments section. Thanks.

My general thinking can be read here, but the short version is that it's both good and bad.

The Good -- Great action, well-paced, we get meaningful answers quickly so we can move on to new questions.

The Bad -- Xander and Dawn appear in one scene, and it seems explicitly designed to make them look like, well, assholes. Anyone expecting Giles from "The Freshman" from them, forget it.

The Ugly -- I'm not sure the romantic storylines of the season could feel more paint-by-numbers at this point. Blah blah admission of feelings, sorta, under stress, blah blah triangle, blah blah epic nyan relationship to follow.

There's a tease for 9.05 that says we'll "say goodbye to a key character". I'd like to hope that just means they are going to put someone on a bus, but I think they are probably going to drop the bus on someone, with the best odds being Xander. We have been told of some specific function Dawn will serve throughout the season, but not for him, and they are the two who simultaneously would still matter to the audience but who have conveniently been excised from the plot.
The summary of the issue


[ edited by
zianna on 2011-12-14 16:49 ]

[ edited by zianna on 2011-12-14 16:50 ]

[ edited by zianna on 2011-12-14 16:51 ]
I think the goodbye to a key character is The reason why....

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2011-12-14 17:15 ]
I read my copy at the bus stop which was a first. The ending was obvious but I did not see it coming (my favourite kind of story telling). Overall a good issue with a few things to ponder. Is Spike changed?
That would be fine -- I really would prefer that they ship someone off for a while rather than just kill them for the lulz and the angst. And has been pointed out to me, there's at least one variant cover that favors the tease referring just to a character with business elsewhere leaving.
And there's a review (not mine) here:
@kingofcretins -- I agree with you about Xander and Dawn. I just don't think that it was very in character for them to sit on a couch and scrounge for change while Buffy might get shot by the SFPD.

At the very least, they should have been grabbing their coats while looking up hospitals with trauma units.

As for who may go, I like Buffyfantic's theory. It fits both comics. Maybe it's something this character has to do to make things right for them.

@Simon I am running about 70% Spike still a vamp to 30% Spike is now a human.

Over all it was well paced and very interesting. I hope we get more Kohl time soon. He's a hottie.
If Spike is a human now that would be such a tragic twist. It would possibly mean that Severin could have saved his girlfriend if he had just stopped sucking sooner. Let the angst begin.

[ edited by cazador on 2011-12-14 19:25 ]
@Casador - hard to say. Spike has a soul, Severin'd girlfriend most likely didn't. Then again, Joss could reintroduce the idea of soulless humans. It could be interesting.
I have my copy of Buffy S9 #4.The conclusion of, "Freefall.

This was a action heavy issue as Buffy took on Severin.This issue also seems to confirm that Severin is the guy in shades from Buffy S8 #40 and he's sent after Buffy by rogue slayer Simone.

It looks like things are better on the police front now for Buffy now that Severin has been outed.Dowling is being setup as the contact with the police.Sort of a Commissioner Gordon for Buffy.There is a lot of specualtion that this isuse is also setting up a love triangle between Spike/Buffy/Dowling.I guess that's possible.But it's too soon to tell if things will pan out like that.

Also seems Buffy's roomies learn about Buffy's night job.Wonder how that's gong to play in upcoming issues.

We got Spike's feelings about Buffy coming into play while talking to Koh and basically parroting Angel's reasons for leaving back in season 3.

I liked the scene at towards the end between Buffy and Willow and based on the letter page and other info out there,I think next issue wll be setting up Willow to go on her own adventure away from Buffy and everybody eles with a pit stop in Angel & Faith and then into her own miniseries later in the season.

As for the big debate about whether Severin did something to Buffy and Spike while trying to suck them dry.I think it's left intentially ambigious especially on the Spike front.If something was done to either or both(Buffy says she's still the slayer),the door is open for them being effected by Severin being a slwo process.Quite hoestly,in this magicless world,anything can happen and it can be chalked up to loss of magic/destruction of the seed.Like the way Morah demon blood works now in the magicless world and zompires.So it could go eiather IMo at this moment on whether Buffy is going to lose her powers or Spike is going become human or something else.

My big question though is where does Severin go from here?I can't believe we haven't seen the last of him(he's left in a hospital bed wanting Simone to give him a charge) even though it looks like SImone has decided to handle things herself.

I thought issues 3 and 4 were better then issues 1 and 2 but I'm still not really feeling the season yet.I'm just finding Buffy's book in season 9 dull and mendering at this point and I'm more interested in the new characters then our core. I really loved the larger scale of season 8 and there was a letter in today's issue that that made some points that sort of matched my feelings currently.The idea of bringing the story back down to earth in season 9 and trying to mimic the smaller scope of the T.V. series isn't working for me in the comic book medium IMO.

After this first arc,I really feel that Angel & Faith is the much stronger and more interesting book.I'll see if if my opinion of Buffy's book improves as we continue on.
I totally called it that he would be the evil sunglass dude from #40. Thought the same thing re: a changed Spike. It would be crazy, considering all this talk of "normal".
Also, I was thinking Spike might be the one going out of town. Or, y'know, orbit. Lot's of Buffy-related stress on his mind, it would seem.
I cannot believe we have another month till #5...
I don't have much to say about the issue, only good things, but i definitly wanted to share my joy at being able to read it so soon. God bless digital comics and my mom's ipad that means i don't have to wait a week to get a issue, (or more, if i try to combine shipping and wait until the next a&f issue is out).
I don't have a whole lot to say about this issue either, other than I enjoyed it and want to see where it goes from here. I might write a longer review sometime soon but for now I think there are just a few things.

First, it really did bother me how little Xander and Dawn seem to care about Buffy. This either better change immediately or be justified somehow. When/why did they become the kind of people that would abandon their best friend/sister? What happened to the Xander of Season 7, willing to stick by Buffy till the end?

I liked that a regular dude got to save the day this time and I actually quite like Agent Dowling. Hope to see more of him.

Love the panel of Spike in the boat saying "Which I decidedly am not" about Buffy needing something normal. The art in this issue was very strong overall actually.
Here's my summary.

I'd really like to see more Xander and Dawn too, but remember, they didn't know that Severin turned on Buffy - they thought she was just out killing vampires, which wouldn't leave them much reason to worry about her.
Pretty sure Spike just got de-vamped. That's gonna be weird for him. Who is Spike without his vamp superpowers to abuse?

I read my copy at the bus stop which was a first.

I used to read mine standing on a crowded bus most of the time. Buffy's full page chained-to-sexy-naked-vampires dream sequence made that just a little bit awkward once.
But it was less awkward the second time?
I see no chance that Spike isn't still a vampire. That's not something you do ambiguously. And he'd know immediately he was human, so it would make absolutely no sense he'd be all wistfully mooning over Buffy needing normal when he, himself, now was normal. But, really, there's no way they are going to turn him human -- roughly the biggest plot development possible for his character -- and then not mention it until the next issue.
Kairos, that's actually a pretty fair point. Didn't think of that.

I agree, Spike becoming human would be a MUCH bigger moment than that, especially considering what he had just been discussing with Koh.
Why does Buffy have hand grenades in her room?
It was the tear in the same panel where Spike's face de-vamps that convinced me something beyond the usual near-dust experience had occured. YMMV, of course.
Why is Simone hating Buffy so much? Her wanting to destroy Buffy's "nauseating idea that she's doing good" vaguely resembles early Twilight's scope. Was she ever connected with Twilight?

Join the chorus of happy people being able to read it so soon, thanks to digital.
Folks, if Spike is now human, and we are talking a possible pergnancy... the mind reels!
If Spike is now human... and still stood there mooning over Buffy, convinced she needed normal, i.e. someone not a vampire, despite not being a vampire, and didn't think to tell anyone he was human on general principle... he turns, in that instant, into the most unsympathetic and frankly batsh*t stupid character in the history of genre fiction.

I'm assuming unsympathetic moron is not a direction they mean to take the character, so I'm inclined to think he's still a vampire.

I can also barely conceive of words to describe the quality of writing involved if someone thinks it's a good call to turn Spike human -- HUGEST plot development possible for his character -- and just let it be something they'll mention in passing in the following issue.
One could argue that being a former vampire is also not very normal. I'm not necessarily arguing that point, but one could.
I loved the issue.

Overall, it's very good - quick-paced, with great twists and a couple of great one-liners. (Buffy about Severin: "[he] tried to turn me into his personal Duracell". Willow to Buffy after it's over: "I wanted to be here in case you joined the no-powers club. I thought you might need a magic-free shoulder to cry on".) But overall dialogues are functional and straightforward - I'd love to see more quips and quirks. Maybe it's because the issue is mostly about action.

A little bit of nitpicking: Spike sends group text messages about Siphon on page 8. On page 14 Xander and Dawn haven't got it yet; at least they act like they haven't. Continuity problem or something to do with the plot?

The art is energetic and very cinematic. Colorist Michelle Madsen did particularly good job here: red and blue light from police cars are reflected on objects, faces and silhouettes, pulsing with action, with alarm, with emotions.

So, where do we go from here?

So far, Buffy and Spike are the only persons whom Severin zapped but not killed. The consequences can be varied. For example, Spikee may catch the Syphon virus and become the next Syphon. He may turn half-human, half-vampire He may turn human (although I doubt it) - gradually. Or maybe he has read Buffy's mind, has felt her love and now wants to leave because he doesn't want her to spend her life with a vampire. Or he may stay just the same Spike, slightly shaken by the experience but otherwise unchanged.

The same situation is with Buffy. Writers can go in each direction. By the end of the issue she says that she is still a slayer - but she may lose her powers gradually. Or she may acquire new powers.

By the end of the issue Buffy promises to Willow to help her ("Your magic, Will. We'll figure it out, I promise"). On the cover of the next issue Willow is shown leaving, and in the lettercol Allie says that "we say goodbye to a key character". My guess is that it's Allie's way of saying that Willow will go on a spiritual journey - either to rediscover magic or to deal with its loss.

Interesting detail: the power that Severin sucked out of vampires can do positive things - heal, for example. Maybe it's a clue to Willow's possible way of regaining her magic.

Oh, and the red-glasses guy from #40 is Severin (we see him in these glasses in a flashback). Pity. My hope to see Ripper is crushed.

The scene where Buffy and Spike say each others' names is so shippy that I am really, really afraid for the future of favorite blonds. Joss never gives shippers anything unless he plans to take away much more than he has given.
Great issue. So will Simone be the big bad this season or is it just the set up for something else?

Also for those reading the series via digital, Dark Horse's Android app is finally out. I've found that Android 10.1 tablets are quite nice to read issues full screen, as their widescreen ratio, compared to the iPad's 4:3 ratio, means the comic art fits nicely and is just ever so slightly smaller than the print version.
One could argue that being a former vampire is also not very normal.

One could argue that Spike in any form is many things but normal is not one of them. :)
I think it's really silly to read too much into Buffy and Spike's contact with Severin. I don't think either one of them has lost any of their power, they've merely been touched or tasted by Severin. If we were meant to think they had been changed, I don't think we would have gotten the line, "Still a slayer" or seen Spike gallivant off the page.

I actually think a consequence of Severin's contact with Buffy's power is seen in the next issue, when Buffy starts having slayer dreams again. This is not unlike "Restless," where a series of dreams were sparked when Buffy first started to literally share her power with others (Xander, Giles, and Willow with the enjoining spell).

In "Restless", the First Slayer attacks them as a punishment to Buffy, who rebels against the slayer creed, "she alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness." Maybe the dreams will reflect the power's reaction to what Severin touched and will foretell some bad omen's for Buffy about her new magicless world.
From the context in which he was talking to Eldre Koh about what Buffy needs, does it seem that Spike was talking about... his personality? His idiosyncrasies? He was talking about the fact that he was a vampire -- the same non-normality he has at the end of the issue that he is still fixated on.
Or--maybe Spike needs some time to deal with being human again by himself, before throwing himself at Buffy's feet in a grand romantic gesture. And he just lets Eldre Koh think he's not talking to Buffy because of the whole "not normal" thing.

I mean, *if* this happened, it would be a huge life-changing event for him. It makes total sense that he would need to process it before talking to Buffy. Also, given their history and his insecurity issues, he might think that being human made him even *less* what she needed.
The blurbs for #6 and #7 make it seem like Spike still has vampire strength. I don't think he's human at the end of #4. But I do think the question has been put into play, and that Spike might end up human at some point during the season.
I'm feeling more certain; I'd say 0.0% chance that Spike is human at the end of 9.04. There is just no chance they"d turn him human and forget to mention it. And I personally just don't think newly human Spike would be such a loser as to stand there pretending he's not for no rational or coherent reason whatsoever.
Severin doesnt have the power to make spike's heart beat though he would just leave him undead, with a soul, but with no vamp face changing or super strength. I am pretty sure something happened though that we don't know about yet when the three of them were all entangled in the power sucking
RichiePalmer - Yeah, this pretty much sums up my understanding of the Siphon powers - he ( or she) sucks , but does not regenerate. All vamp bodies were found drained of blood and pretty much dead - ie in the condition they were buried before rising as vampires. It takes regeneration to restore life to the body , not just sucking out demonic powers. In the mean time it is weird that neither Buffy nor Willow remember that they already gave up their power into Earth once - and Willow was almost content. Supposedly Buffy did that partially to save Willow from becoming DFW. I understand that S8 is water under the bridge but Buffy - Willow dynamic RE: loss of power is a bit ludicrous when this recent history is ignored completely. (I have not read issue 4 btw, but reviews are abundant.)
Whether Spike is or isn't human, I'll just say that I have no interest in reading about him as a human. I was interested when they did it for Angel the couple of times it has happened, but it just isn't something worth pursuing for Spike. They would have to work double time to keep me as a reader if they did such a thing.
My review can be read HERE. In short, I liked it, but there were a couple minor gripes about the execution in general.
I'm kind of baffled by this idea that storytelling should never be ambiguous. It could be argued that the definition of storytelling is the resolving of ambiguities.
Why was Severin covered in blood in 8 #40?
There's a time and a place for ambiguity. A vampire character that wins popularity polls and what not turning human is pretty much the farthest in both time and space as you can get from the mysterious land of Ambigua as one can get. There is a pretty good reason why that act break in "I Will Remember You" is Angel saying "I'm alive"; because if the audience is spending the commercial break trying to guess what Angel's wordlessly and inscrutable expression meant, they are no longer engaged in the story because the story for the next two acts is dealing with Angel being human, not trying to decipher of he even is.

Same basic principle applies here.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2011-12-17 17:38 ]
I don't think it's so far fetched that they would turn Spike human and not tell us right away; but I don't think he's human either. I think the comparison to the spell in the end of S4 is most likely; that some sort of connection happened, and that there are going to be dreams because of it. Maybe shared with Severin? That could be interesting; pretty derivative of the Fray/twin (sorry forget right now) thing, but reasonable nonetheless.

I thought this was a really good issue-- I was totally glued to the pages and faked out more than once-- but then at the end I felt a little let down. I mean, I liked the arc, I really like S9 so far, but I feel like after 4 issues a lot of stuff almost happened but basically we're exactly where we started the season. The only outstanding problem is the idea that Buffy may have some drama with her roommates, which, sorry, can't really see as that big a deal, and what's up with Dawn and Xander. Which I also can't really get all that worked up about, honestly. I still want to know what happened with the neighbor the night of the party, but we'll find out at some point I suppose. Maybe Buffy's roomies will give her the boot and she can move in with creepy mystery man! (I don't seriously think this.) And yeah, sure Severin and Simone are out there, sure, but they aren't real mysterious just now.

I agree with Moscow that the amount of attention being paid to the idea of Buffy and Spike as a shippy type couple spells nothing but DOOM for their future, or at least major angst.

Up above a bit someone mentioned the concept of "re-introducing the idea of soulless humans". Re? What (probably really obvious) thing am I forgetting here?
Ok late to the game as always, I was a bit underwhelmed by this issue.

I was kind of disappointed that the Siphon was basically a loose canon sent Buffy's way by Simone, it just makes him a way less interesting character. Also him getting shot by Dowling was about the most obvious thing in the world, I was expecting a little more.

I also though Xander and Dawn were remarkably calm about Buffy being surrounded by police, I mean yeah they were talking about bail money but fuck man, cops in America have guns! I'd be worried about Buffy being shot!

If it is Willow that leaves, I can't say I'm going to miss her. I mean don't get me wrong, Willow is my favourite character but she's barely been in the bleeding comic so it's hardly going to be a change that she isn't physically in town.

Also technical question, on the page where Spike and Koh attack the Siphon, bottom left panel shows a vamp face person above Koh's unconscious body. Who is that?! Is it meant to be Spike? Or some random vamp onlooker?
In all seriousness, a villain being effectively neutralized by someone's responsible and accurate use of a firearm in "Buffy" is about the least obvious thing they could do. They even lampshade it *twice* in the issue by referring to the title character's attitude about guns. If we were talking about "Angel", I wouldn't give it a second thought, in "Buffy", though, it's actually pretty surprising.

It was Spike reacting to Eldre Koh getting knocked out. Pretty good likeness of game-face Spike showing surprise, I thought. He was basically like

[ O ]

Not sure I mentioned this here, but it did amuse me. When the preview pages came out for 9.04, I said Eldre Koh was like "Buffy" getting its very own Worf. And then, when I read the issue, the new Worf is used for "The Worf Effect".
Yeah I mean I can see how it would be Spike but it didn't seem to fit very well with the previous and subsequent action panels for me.

With regard to the shooting of Severin, I thought it was obvious from the panel where Buffy stakes him and comes up with the plan to just keep hurting him until his power is used up. The use of a gun in BtVS itself is surprising but given they have cops being significant characters less so.
Finally read my copy. First time I've ever been completely bored with the Buffy comics. I think I'm gonna start waiting for the trades to come out. The story simply isn't engaging enough at this point.
Issue 4 was a lot of fun I think. I do wonder if there are any consequences to Severin sucking Buffy and Spike's power. However I agree that at most it's probably just a connection between them, but I also agree that the idea of Spike turning human has been planted.

I thought it was very natural the way Xander and Dawn reacted to Buffy's situation. They care but they're tired of it.

I do like the scene between Willow and Buffy, it was very friendship-y and felt like some tension between has been defused.

I'm looking forward to the next issue because I have lots of questions.

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