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April 07 2012

How Buffy got her groove back! Comic Book Resources' article about Season 9.

pretty sums up what I feel. But I'll never be over Spike. Grrr. Moma like.
Great article, but what's with the Spike bashing? Was that really necessary? Especially since Spike was in about 5 issues of Season 8. How can you be sick of Spike already??
Whatever. I'm a little biased with him being my favorite and all ;D
sick of Spike!? He's one of the best things about Season 9 so far! Atleast for me, love his role as more than JUST comic relief. (Though he is still hilarious!) :)
I love Spike; he makes the book so much better! I am glad he is a regular character.
This is perhaps a bit of a third rail, and I'm sure this has been discussed to death (but never by me) but does nobody else find it hard to forgive Spike for trying to rape Buffy?

I realise Spike had no soul and Angel killed Jenny Calender while he had no soul but this is obviously different.

(After seeing Kaan's post below, never mind. I love Spike, he it witty and writes poetry.)

[ edited by insistondoubt on 2012-04-07 21:57 ]
insistondoubt, would you mind if I e-mailed you my reason as to why I forgave Spike, as to not start a big thing here on it?
Yes that would actually be really interesting, thank you!
insistondoubt-It is different. Angel murdering Jenny Calender and putting her in Giles' bed was a cruel, calculated act. Spike's attempted rape was an act committed in an extreme moment of emotional despair.

And it's also not so different. If you can forgive one, you should be able forgive the other.


[ edited by menomegirl on 2012-04-07 22:24 ]
insistondoubt - You're welcome :) And I sent it. :)

Also, menomegirl, thank you for mentioning that since I was going to point it out but in my message to insistondoubt I got a bit ranty and completely forgot to touch on that xD
Yeah, there I was enjoying the article and suddenly bam! Spike bashing.
Spike being back is the best part of the comic to me.
Ugh, IMO the comics are awful, and I try my best to forget their existence.
menomegirl - An interesting point; though I'm not sure I agree that if one should be forgiven so should the other. I think it depends on who is being asked to forgive.

It probably would be fair to think that Giles would never completely forgive Angel for killing Jenny, though I think it would also be fair to think that the other characters might be able to.

I think rape or attempted rape (which in this case are also domestic violence issues, significant because you would be unlikely to trust a rapist, though in the case of marital or domestic rape you might be more likely to trust a partner at least prior to the event) are very different crimes to murder, and would not necessarily warrant the same kind of forgiveness from the same parties.

Sorry for bringing this up if a moratorium has already been placed on this topic. I welcome mod intervention.
I missed Spike SO much in Season 8... I am SO happy he's in Season 9 as much as he is. I've missed his character so much, and he's the best part of Buffy Season 9 for me. :D

However, I do love all of the love Angel and Faith is getting. It's been such an incredible series!
I welcome mod intervention

You're more than welcome to discuss the issue in a reasonable manner if a relevant article comes up that isn't a blatant hits grab or character bashing piece*. But for now it would probably be best to focus on the linked article in question.

Ugh, IMO the comics are awful, and I try my best to forget their existence.

And if you want to use this an opportunity to rag on the comics, please don't. It's caused enough derailing of threads in the past. Criticism of arcs, plot lines are fine btw. As ever, if you want clarification please don't hestitate in get in touch. We don't discuss rules on site as that equally derails threads.

*The two often go hand in hand and you can't frame a neutralish debate in such a poisonous environment
I love the comics. It's weird how they don't really *feel* like the show. Which the first incarnation of the comics (pre season eight) tried harder to capture. These ones capture the characters and the sense of humour perfectly. In fact it is almost a perfect translation of the TV series onto the page - I guess it is just weird to see these characters so authentically realised without their actors actually bringing them to life. It's become its own thing now.

And it's funny it's that way because the TV series often felt like a comic book come to life. So much of what the series was about was drawn from that world.

[ edited by daylight on 2012-04-08 00:01 ]
I would like to submit that it would be very difficult to forgive someone who has murdered you.
I think the only catch to Spike being one of the best things about Season 9 is... well, who was the best actor in Patrick Stewart's stage production of "A Christmas Carol"? There's a line in the Arthur C. Clarke novel "2061" that refers to an "old astronomy text" that says "the solar system consists of the Sun, Jupiter, and assorted debris". Well, Season 9 consists (thus far) of Buffy, Spike, and assorted debris. I don't even think we could seriously brainstorm a list of "best things about Season 9" that goes past Buffy or Spike because... there isn't enough of anything else at this point. Inconsistently written detective Dowling? Detective (in fridge) Cheung? That one lady that had a job with computers or something and took off with a broken axe? The dude with the eyepatch and his girlfriend? Cipher the Siphon? Eldre Worf?

I don't intend any of that to be a "bash" of Spike, let alone the comics -- I've probably been one of the comic continuation's strongest defenders. I don't think the article "bashes Spike", either -- it is, believe it or not, possible for well-intentioned reasonable people to differ on both the amount and emphasis they prefer that character receive in the story.
I am one of the those that gave up on the comic book after about issue 20. I really wanted to like them and even spent extra on variant covers (which as a rule I normally refuse to do), but even the arcs written by Joss left me unsatisfied. If they have gotten better, then I might give them another try.

insistondoubt- I always felt the same way about the Spike situation until I read an interview with James Marsters describing his take. Read his interview in the archives for March 10. I agree with everything he says.
I definitely agree with this article but felt the series did get a bit better towards the end of season 8. The final issue was really quite good and certainly all of Season 9 has been great. The last few issues (I almost wrote episodes) have been just so great, filled with so many small character moments that are just awesome and remind me of the best of the tv show.

lottalettuce, I would recommend checking out season 9, it definitely feels a lot more like the show than it did ever before.
I'm always fascinated by comic books, they are a completely different art form than television, with different strengths and weaknesses. In Season 8 Joss was definitely trying to push the envelope, doing big extraordinary things he could never have done on television (owning to time and budget restraints). But he was right, what most fans wanted was time spent with the characters rather than Indian goddesses & flying submarines.... Season 9 is definitely an attempt to get into Buffy's head and I think it is way too soon to judge the story arc.

Personally I always love seeing Spike (my favorite seasons of BtVS and Ats were the ones with Spike). But I feel that debating the attempted rape, like debating shipping wars, isn't worth the effort. It isn't something people are likely to change their mind about.

[ edited by embers on 2012-04-08 05:26 ]
I was already tired of Spike by the time Season Six rolled around - and I actually like the character. If he's some people's only reason for watching/reading/whatever, that's fine for them, but some of us are more interested in the core four.
Core three now, alas. Unless you want to count Dawn as a "Core" member.

But that raises my big question: If the Core can expand to include a season 5 addition, why can't it expand to include the guy who's been around since season 2? Why does it have to be either the Core howevermanyyouwanttocountascorerightnow or Spike? I get that right now it's Spike and not the other Core members of the cast. But if we got to an equilibrium where he was one of the gang (i.e. an equilibrium where Buffy stops splitting her life into the Scoobie half and the non-Scoobie half), would that still be too much Spike time? Can't we all just get along here?

@insistondoubt For what it's worth, in the wake of season 8, I've had a MUCH harder time with the idea that Giles and only Giles should have been upset about who killed Jenny. Retrospectively, it now bothers me a great deal that Buffy could still be so in love with Angel despite the fact that he caused so much pain to the person Buffy supposedly loved as a father. The end of season 8 unfolded when I was deeply involved in an analysis of season 3, and I have had a very hard time getting over how off-putting it is to watch Buffy be all lovey dovey with Angel knowing that the price of that love was Jenny (and now Giles himself). Seeing Red is no picnic -- but it wasn't a calculated act of cruelty on Spike's part and above all no innocent bystanders had their lives destroyed as a result of it.

[ edited by Maggie on 2012-04-08 08:58 ]

[ edited by Maggie on 2012-04-08 08:58 ]

[ edited by Maggie on 2012-04-08 08:59 ]
I prefer S8 so far. I think it had better writing and was generally more exciting and thought-provoking. If I compare the first 7 issues of both seasons, I think S8 is the stronger product by far. Of course, I think S8 benefitted greatly from having its first 5 issues written by Joss and then followed by Brian K Vaughn, who are both stronger writers for this verse than Chambliss. Issue #1 of S9 which Whedon penned was absolutely fantastic (the writing was dense, layered, incredibly nuanced, and in hindsight, full of foreshadowing to robo-Buffy – “it feels like my parts have been screwed on wrong”) but there’s a noticeable drop in quality since then. S9 certainly hasn’t been bad but the writing in 9.02-9.07 lacks the punch that the better issues of S8 had. I also think the Twilight mystery was far more intriguing early on in S8 than what Severin has been thus far.

I get why people prefer S9. It is more humble and grounded as promised and particular plot points, such as Buffy’s decision to have an abortion in #6, are more relatable than her arc in S8. But as someone who was a pretty big fan of S8 I didn’t much mind some of the OTT craziness. I wasn’t a fan of how extreme it got in arcs such as Retreat but the first 20 issues were one of the strongest starts to any BtVS season, IMO. And whilst the season got very uneven in the middle and especially during the Twilight arc, I thought it finished on an incredibly strong note with the fantastic Issue #40. I have generally liked S9 but the writing just isn’t as complex and I feel it should be and the characterisation/character interaction feels more Vampire Diaries than Buffy to me. And as someone who has always found that show very overrated and two-dimensional, that’s not a good thing. I was hoping Chambliss’ writing for this season would better reflect his wonderful DH script A Spy In The House Of Love. A lot of this season just feels too on-the-nose and I feel we need more subtlety.

I’m not trying to diss S9 too hard. I do like reading it and I think it has done some things well. And I for one am not sick of Spike whatsoever and am glad he’s part of this season. But I just don’t think it’s really lived up to the potential setup in S8’s Coda and I miss Whedon’s writing terribly. I’m simply offering a different viewpoint to the article, as I am one of those people who liked S8 and feel I could argue quite convincingly why the writing in that is superior to what we’ve been given in S9 thus far. As I said, if we’re comparing the first 7 issues of both seasons I think S8 wins hands down with The Long Way Home, The Chain and the first two issues of Vaughn’s No Future For You. I keep recalling great moments such as when Buffy came through the portal in 8.04 ("No. Panic") or the Decoy's heartbreaking narration at the end of 8.05 ("You may not know who I am. But I do") or the tension built up in 8.07 when Faith reaches for the blade in her hair – and nothing but the end of 9.06 in S9 really compares. I think Chambliss has the voices down well but something is missing from giving the scripts that extra oomph! I get why S9 may be more crowd-pleasing on the surface, but then I've always felt a lot of the writing in S8 was greatly underappreciated and ignored because people couldn't get over things such as Giant Dawn.

I just want Joss to come back and write more issues again. 8.40 and 9.01 were so promising and I've just been a tad disappointed so far. I don't dislike the season by any means, but it's not as strong as it should have been and I think we need to inject some new blood into the writing. Chambliss seems like a lovely guy and I don’t want to criticise him too much, but I think we need more collaboration with other more seasoned BtVS writers.

@insistondoubt – I don’t feel it’s ‘so obviously different.’ Murder is just as horrific as rape in my book and even if it weren’t, fans tend to forget that Angel was just as guilty of rape too. We know for a fact that he raped Holtz’s wife (“repeatedly”, apparently) and I think we’d have to be greatly naive to believe that both he and Spike didn’t rape many more innocent women during their soulless days. Angelus threatens both Cordy and Fred with rape in S4, as well as make many creepy sexualised comments towards Faith. I understand on an emotional level why it’s harder to see Spike behave like that towards a character we know and love, but fans are kidding themselves if they think it was the first time Spike had crossed that line or that Angel wasn’t just as guilty of such despicable acts when soulless. I just don’t think it rationally makes a lot of sense to hold that one incident against the character but not everything else he did, or at the very least not hold other characters equally responsible for their terrible crimes when they were soulless too. And the fact that it actually causes Spike to go and get his soul makes it far easier for me to forgive than most of his other past crimes. He felt remorse for what he did and it wasn't calculated and/or pre-meditated.

I like both Angel and Spike. I like Angel more, to be quite honest. But I'm not going to sugar coat it. They're both murderers and they're both rapists. That's just the brutal truth.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2012-04-08 09:15 ]
Equilibrium is a great word to describes exactly what S9 lacks.

And I agree with everything vampmogs wrote. And then some. For me the writing on Buffy has been very poor this season.
Man, if only Season 9 felt like Chambliss' other vampire project The Vampire Diaries. That it so epically does not feel like that is probably one of the biggest downsides to this season so far. The only time it felt like TVD was in the sharp and rapid pace of 9.02, 9.03, 9.04. The rest of this season has been been so much navel-gazing, so much staring at things -- staring at a pool, staring at a pee stick, Buffy staring at Spike, Spike staring at Buffy, and, of course, staring at Buffy's arm.

The end of 9.05 promised to be a real gamechanger, albeit a dangerous trope of one, but that got flushed twice in as many issues. So we're past the quarter pole for the season and have basically nothing to show for it plotwise except for a robot thing that I have yet to find a single member of the audience who wouldn't sooner they just wrap it up in the next issue or so and pretend it didn't happen.
The only time it felt like TVD was in the sharp and rapid pace of 9.02, 9.03, 9.04.

Which IMO was the weakest run of the season so far. All plot-driven with barley any decent character development. Go figure. 9.05 marked a big improvement in that area and although I still wish the writing was more nuanced, I think the last three issues have been a noticeable improvement over the Freefall arc. The last couple of issues (in particular #6) have given us more food for thought than anything 9.02-9.04 managed to offer.

...except for a robot thing that I have yet to find a single member of the audience who wouldn't sooner they just wrap it up in the next issue or so and pretend it didn't happen.

*raises hand* I can think of a few fans, myself included, who haven't really formed an opinion on the robot thing at all. I'm intrigued. Which isn't to say that I'll end up liking the idea but depending on where they go with it, I think it could be potentially really interesting. That said, the way they chose to reveal it fell really flat and awkward for me, which is a shame.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2012-04-08 14:32 ]
I like the robotness (so far at least). It could go interesting places.
9.05 through 9.07 are a noticeable improvement? I never took you for one that liked a lot of standing around talking, which is almost all we've had for three issues with a small amount of zompire action culminating in the robot reveal. Basically, it's been a plotless three months -- we got the abstract push in a season-arc direction by the fairy + dreams + Willow, after which there has been no... mention, forget development. And at the tail end we get "robot". In between, the only thing that we got that is going to actually shape the plot at all going forward is that Buffy and Spike have feelings for each other (DUN!).

9.02 through 9.05 are the only thing this season has to show for it so far. 9.05 was great, it set a couple major plots in motion; the new "let's fix magic!" mission and Buffy's pregnancy -- which have been, respectively, ignored and (doubly) abandoned in the two issues since. 9.06... look, let's not conflate its literary worth with sentimental enthusiasm for the subject matter. I can find plenty of people who were quite pleased with the philosophical stance (at the time, anyway) who will candidly refer to it as being the Very Special Episode that it was. Very Special Episodes are not... very special, though, when it comes to their overall posterity, and for good reason. 9.06 is not the flagbearer of literary quality for this season. 9.05 and 9.01 are probably fighting for that spot, and in terms of rollicking good time, that would be 9.04. I mean, hell, if someone missed the last 5 pages of 9.05, and the first half or so of 9.07 (up through Spike lecturing Buffy not go get into the fight), would they even feel lost right now? They might be confused by why Buffy said "I guess this means I"m not pregnant", but apart from that? The could basically go "so, Willow left, and Buffy is hanging out with Spike, and they went to rescue the cop from something... she's a robot?!"

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-04-08 17:56 ]
Alternatively, since neither the pregnancy nor the robot storylines have been resolved, I am looking forward to see where the Buffy book goes.

I also am rather enjoying the 'standing around' aspects of the Buffy book, and I'm not feeling that it suffers from a lack of plot (though I did feel that season eight had rather too much plot).
Season 8 had so much going on I couldn't actually understand it by the end. It's about personal likes and dislikes - I like emotion over story. I don't really care how you get somewhere, just make it say something.
Season 8 was pretty within itself, plot wise, for the first three quarters or so. I think a lot of folk get to 8.34/8.35 and the incoherence of what turned out to be the real Twilight plot, and start generalizing it to the whole season. But right up until Buffy sprouted superpowers, we had a pretty riveting, suspenseful saga of Buffy's post-Sunnydale global superhero ambitions butting up against an unreceptive world of humans and demons alike all led by a pretty badass masked megalomaniac. And even with Buffy's superpowers, always intuitively temporary, they could have finished that story out pretty well. But, then they said "psych!" and it was all spacefrak and anthropomorphic universes and just stapled together at the end with "wait, don't leave, it's Spike!", the Seed, and the emotion of losing Giles.

Season 8, the full 40 issues, shouldn't carry the weight of just the incoherent stretch between 8.34 (well, last 2 or 3 pages of 8.33) and 8.37 or so.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-04-08 19:43 ]
Oh, I liked season 8 overall. I also like 9 more - it's more focused and personal. And, you know, everything is better with robots.
The first 7 issues of Season 9 are just not worthy of the first 7 issues of Season 8. Vampmogs may differ, diametrically, on the reason why, but the conclusion we support is the same. And I really have a hard time believing that, issue by issue, Faith's moral and personal crisis/epiphany and the character insights of "Anywhere But Here" aren't going to be superior than any forthcoming robot related hijinks over the next three issues. Honestly, "No Future For You" in and of itself does a lot to contradict the idea Season 9 being more focused or more personal.
What I miss in S9 are the snarky reviews that accompanied S8 (I liked those better than the issues to be honest). And those not coming only from the fans, but from comics site. To this day my favorite review remains CBR's about S8#34.
I'm hoping for a book like 8.05 at some point. Season eight had some great moments, which is hard to deny, whatever you think of the rest of the season. I would put The Chain right up there with some of the best episodes of the TV series.

I didn't really see the reactions at the time, but I also loved the Fray arc. Hope Joss does more with the Fray part of the universe.
KingofCretins - actually I thought it was the Fray arc where season 8 lost momentum. Those first fifteen issues were something special (mainly because of the excellent calibre of the writers) but nothing really clicked after that until towards the end of the season. It kinda went on too long.

On that note, I'd looooove to see Brian K Vaughan and Drew Goddard each take another stab at the Buffyverse.
I loved the Vaughan and Goddard arcs. I think Vaughan's was the best of Season 8. I like Season 9 so far but I think it's still too early to really assess the robot plot twist. We're basically still at the "Wha? She's a robot? That doesn't even make sense!" moment right after the reveal. We don't know where it's going or what all it means yet.
KoC, I suspect you're trying to apply logical reasoning to my feelings - and they rarely connect. PS: also with the Vaughan and Goddard arc love. And Saga is amazing.

[ edited by gossi on 2012-04-08 23:49 ]
But that raises my big question: If the Core can expand to include a season 5 addition, why can't it expand to include the guy who's been around since season 2? Why does it have to be either the Core howevermanyyouwanttocountascorerightnow or Spike? I get that right now it's Spike and not the other Core members of the cast. But if we got to an equilibrium where he was one of the gang (i.e. an equilibrium where Buffy stops splitting her life into the Scoobie half and the non-Scoobie half), would that still be too much Spike time?

For me, yes. As I said, I tired of the character's presence in the story several seasons back. That's my opinion; it's how I feel about it. Simple as that.

Can't we all just get along here?

I'm sorry, did I make some kind of personal attack on somebody by stating a preference just like everyone else does? Considering the serious quality of the bashing that goes on where other characters are concerned, I don't feel like I'm in any way out of line by simply saying that I'm tired of this one. Poor Xander and Dawn, not to mention Kennedy - and sometimes Buffy herself - should have it that good.
Rowan Hawthorn, I generally enjoy your comments but obviously Spike is a sore point with you. Dial it back a little, please.

Spike is mentioned once in the article and 42 times in this thread so far. I do weary of it. I really like Spike but I really dislike watching people fight about how much they do or don't like him, over and over again.

45 now. I'm contributing to the problem! Internet comments about Spike, why can't I quit you.
Just think, if he hadn't been mentioned at all in the article, that number might only be, like, 30 mentions in the thread.

The most eyecatching bit in that column is the unambivalent declaration that the end of 9.07 was "spectacular". Now, in the unqualified, literal meaning of that word... yes, yes it was. But in the connoted meaning of "wow, that's brilliant!", no... not really, no. I can't reconcile the idea that most of the enthusiasm for the robot arc isn't kind of like the enthusiasm I mustered when my Gators hired Ron Zook to be the head coach, or the enthusiasm Superman enthusiasts mustered for the electric red and blue superman arc. Which is to say, a spotty, largely affected enthusiasm, the kind created by the convergence of optimistic people with ridiculous circumstances. I don't believe any of us are going to feel, less than 20 issues hence, that what we really needed in our "Buffy" experience was for her to have spent several issues unknowingly a robot. Especially not since, with every advanced review and solicit I see, I can almost hear the jaunty, whimsical strings of the episode score for "The Zeppo" playing behind this story.
I didn't mention Spike.

Oh, see what I did there.

I'd quite like to see him migrate over to Angel & Faith at some point. The Spike/Faith dynamic is very interesting to me, and it hasn't been explored in much depth. I'm of the opinion that their meeting in "Who Are You" is the moment that planted the first seeds of Spike's infatuation with Buffy - I'd love to see them come to terms with that notion - that perhaps, in some strange and twisted way, it's Faith he's been in love with all this time.

(Plus of course the Spike/Angel dynamic is hilarious.)
My issue is a lack of focus on any core Scooby outside of Buffy, and most notably in the lack of Willow.
Mention Spike red alert.

I am with the reviewer and some of the posters here. For me one of the saving graces of A&F was in Spike NOT being in it. In the end though, the proof of the comic finding its groove/audience ( or not) is in how well the book is doing out there in numbers. If robots, Andrew and Spike brings more satisfied audience into the fandom - great for S9.
I think the reason why this thread became so Spike-centric is simply because the anti-Spike comment in the original article was always going to be what received the most attention. Spike is probably the Buffyverse character that generates the most passionate feelings from the fans, both positive and negative.

I've said before, maybe not here though, that Spike is the reason I became a fan of the two shows. There are other characters that I love a great deal and very few that I don't at least like watching or reading about but Spike will always be the core of the story for me. I was a fan before he joined the show full time but it was his story that really hooked me. Far and away the best character on either Buffy and Angel, for me.

As for his presence in season 9, frankly that is the number one reason why I'm sticking around. Had Spike not been such a presence in the current series, I'd very likely not have continued after season 8. In fact it was probably only his arrival and the role he played in the last few issues of season 8 that convinced me not to give up back then. I'm not going to pretend that I like the bug ship idea, because I don't. Spike belongs in a crypt, or at the very least a more very appropriate gothic styled mansion, not some dimension hopping spaceship. I'm fine with the basic idea of the ship within the Buffyverse but it would have been a plot better suited to Andrew or Xander, in my opinion.

Bottom line though, as long as Spike is in the story, even with a crew of cockroaches, I'll stick around. Lose Spike and I'm not so sure that there's enough left I care about of the tv series to keep buying the books.
Don't know how 'vampire-appropriate gothic styled mansion' corrected to 'very appropriate' in that last comment, but apparently it did!
There is no "anti-Spike" comment in the original article. I'll say it again -- reasonable, well-intentioned people can differ on how much and how prominent they want Spike (or anyone else) featured in the story.
Wasn't meant as a dig at the author, KoC. The 'anti-Spike' thing was just a quick way of summing up the topic. Didn't mean it as anything more than that.

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