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October 10 2012

(SPOILER) Discuss Buffy Season 9 #14. This Jane Espenson penned story features the debut of Billy.

Well that was sufficiently adorable. Ready for Buffy and Billy to meet next month! I also wasn't a fan of Moline's art in the dream issue of BtVS, but I thought his art was perfect for this one.

[ edited by cazador on 2012-10-10 17:41 ]
So, either Zompires aren't hindered by the invite rule... or someone screwed up again.
I feel like there were some parts that just did no flow. For example, Billy meets Zompire Post outside, then he is shown leaving his Grandmother's house, where he meets the Zompire again and then knocks him down. Another part I found strange-he goes from hugging his Grandmother after being bullied, to explaining the Zompire issue.

I don't know; I hope this advances the overall story in some way. With only 25 issues of Buffy, her not being in a whole issues is a bit troubling. Not my favorite issue so far.
@apollo11 Perhaps no vampires are hindered by the invite rule now that magic is gone.
Spike was shown to be in one of the early issues iirc.
apollo, between the possibility of a mistake or just a completely incoherent zompire continuity... honestly, I don't know what's more likely at this point.

I do wish very much that this would have been a "Tales from the Slayers" two-shot -- it accomplishes the Slayer 'branding' in the very title, without the strained dialogue about what is or isn't a 'real Slayer', and I sincerely doubt that (in a season in which the chief, plurality complaint seems to be not enough interaction/involvement of not enough characters in the still-mostly-impenetrable plot) we're going to look back and say "man, I sure am glad they took two issues out of 25 to tell a mostly tangential story about a couple original characters". I mean, it's bad enough that the very concept of the "Scooby Gang" seems to have fled, and we rarely if ever see the only two such characters even still nominally in this book full time, but now we're going without Buffy as well.

I give the book bonus gore points for pulling off the back of a man's head, though, that's the comic book advantage right there.

EDIT: In fairness, we didn't actually *see* Spike unable to enter, we inferred it. He inferred it. Assuming a door that is usually locked is always locked is one of the most common demonstrations of learned helplessness, where people don't even try it. We heard him and Buffy talk about not being invited into Xander and Dawn's place, we heard her teasing the invite to her party, but we never to my knowledge saw him actually just try to enter and be blocked. So, the possibility that the entire invitation rule is off the table is still in play. I'm glad someone pointed that out, because it actually makes something in Season 9 less of a lorehump to me, because it means there might not be some completely inexplicable zompire/vampire invitation difference. Seed/pre-Seed difference of the general rule makes more sense.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2012-10-10 19:04 ]
This issue was hit or miss for me. I do agree that it was jarring him transitioning between getting bullied to explaining the zompire infestation. I did like the dialog, but I always love Jane's dialogues. I also think it stange that Devon wants to be a Watcher and Billy to be his Slayer because I'm not sure the role of the Watcher would be understood or even applicable in the current world. Seeing as how there were no Watchers for Season 8's Slayer Army. I don't disagree with the ideology of guys taking on the Slayer mantle as a principle, just confused as to why Devon would sign up for Watcher status. Which makes me not trust him because Watchers tend to outlive their Slayers. IDK, Devon is giving me fishy vibes.
But, if I recall, vampires can enter uninvited, it just hurts like Hell. Maybe since the zompires are not all mentally there maybe they don't care so much about the pain. The promise of the kill, the blood lust, overpower or at least makes the pain bearable. I need to read up on my lore.
And yes, do agree this should haven been a "Tales" story.
*edit* I am wrong about the painful if entered. I now differ to the inferring theory. I must have been thinking of "Let The Right One In".

[ edited by The Goose on 2012-10-10 20:07 ]
I have my copy of Buffy S9 # 14.Billy The Vampire Slayer part I of II.

I'm going to keep this short.

I liked the issue.I liked the new characters like Billy,Devon,Katie and Billy's grandmother.I think these new additions have potential and I could even see a spin-off in season 10 surrounding them working.I thought this issue was a improvement over the last arc.It had more energy and pop IMO.

With that being said and still needing to read next month's conclusion,this feels like it should of been a one -shot issues outside the monthly like Tales of The Vampire:The Thrill,Willow:Goddesses And Monsters and Riley:Commitment through Distance, Virtue through Sin from last season.

This doesn't feel like it belongs in the main monthly to me.

I'm assuming we're going to see some of these new characters interact with Buffy and the others beginning in the next arc.

The zompire entering in uninvited could be a flub or a plot point.Could go either way.Someone asked about it in the Slayalive Q/A with Scott Allie for this issue.So we'll see what he says.I have a little fanwank that might work.Since zompires remote control the animated corpse from another dimension instead of physically inhabiting the body like normal vampires,maybe that weakens certain rules like being able to enter uninvited.Since the vampire demon is farther way and not in the body,that makes the zompires more feral since the demon can't merge with the person's memories and personality but also weakens the ability for zompires to be blocked from entering.The demon isn't physically in the body so a zompire can enter uninvited.

Like I said,it's a fanwank.

I'm also surprised how the writing was divided.I assumed that Jane Espenson and Drew Greenberg were going to co-write both issues but it looks like Jane wrote this one and Drew will write issue 15.

So I liked the issue as a comic on it's own and think these new characters have potential but don't like it as part of the monthly.Think it should of been a one-shot issue outside the main book.
My summary and review, since apparently I'm still doing that.
We only see our girl once a month... Really can't handle not having her turn up, even for one or two pages at the end. Otherwise, I really loved the Billy story. Bit messy with the zompire stuff, but I imagine that will become clearer in the follow-up.
So vampires are zombies now, and they don't get 'sired' (exchange of blood) they just get bit? And they have pointed ears? At least the first one who broke out of his coffin on the airplane had pointed ears... and why did he stay quietly in that coffin until it landed, seemed he would have turned into a zombie as soon as he died like all the ones he bit did. It is all very confusing.
But Billy is cool, and I love Jane Espenson's writing, and I enjoyed Karl Moline's artwork.
I absolutely loved this issue. To be honest, besides the first issue of Season 9, this has the best writing in the season thus far. I loved the blue blocks of dialogue, like a narrator... I immediately fell in love with Billy, his grandmother, I love Devon and their implied but still platonic relationship. Nothing seems or feels rushed... In just one issue, there was such great characterization and development. I adore Buffy as a character, she's my favorite besides Spike, but I don't mind reading about a (FINALLY!) gay character written by Jane Eapenson. I sincerely hope she's more of a part of Season 10. Also, I've met Karl Moline at Mega-Con... Sweet man, and his art is just PERFECT in this issue.

I loved this issue and can't wait for next month's issue. Haven't felt this in love with the main book in a while.
I enjoyed it, especially because we are seeing how the rest of the world is in danger. The issue not only gives us Billy but clearly states that Zompires are somehow breeding really fast. I do want an explanation of the mechanics of this; but I'm also glad that we have an issue that gives real weight to the end of Magic for everyone.

I do have problems in the same places others have mentioned. Some of the transitions, especially outside the grandmom's, were hard to follow. And I did miss my Buffy.

But overall I feel like I now have a better sense of what the Buffyverse might be like without magic and it's not good.
I think this is easily the best issue of this title so far. Some people have pointed out a few minor "problems" above, but I'm willing to overlook them. The issue overall is great, though it isn't /perfect/, of course. I thought the writing was brilliant though. Billy is a really fun character, and I hope he sticks around. He honestly reminds me of myself, as we're the same age and going through similar challenges.
I missed Buffy and I'm not sure I like the idea of a new character gobbling an entire issue when I'm still very much invested in all the old ones but I think Billy has potential and I'm curious to see what they're going to do with him.

As for the invite thing: it makes sense to me that in a world without magic that shouldn't work anymore, for zompires *and* vampires as well. If that's really the case, then the real problem is why hasn't it come up sooner? That's a pretty important difference with the "old" world.

It can't be a mistake though, I can't see how Jane & Drew could forget this particular bit of lore.
I found myself highly disappointed with this issue. The writing, at times, seemed to lapse into preachy after school special territory. I'm not a fan of heavy-handed moralizing in fiction even when I'm sympathetic with the message; it often seems like the reader is being condescended to. And I thought the art was generally weak as well; there were several instances where I had to go back and re-read things because I wasn't sure what was happening.

In the greater context of season nine, this was just another disappointing, muddled entry. Season nine has had its share of problems: A lack of direction, a lack of coherent plot focus, and this thing has just been wandering all over the place. The first story arc set up some interesting things, but everything that has followed has been a mess.

The series went off the rails with the robot revelation. I have to wonder if that was not in the original plan, and was done on the fly to invalidate the unplanned pregnancy storyline when someone in Fox licensing got wind of Buffy being knocked up and planning to terminate the pregnancy and, well, aborted the storyline, leaving the Dark Horse crew scrambling to repair the damaged storyline. Read everything after issue five and ask yourself Did they actually plan this out? Is this the direction they wanted to go in when season nine was being planned out?

If they wanted to introduce "Billy the Vampire Slayer," then this should have been a Tales of the Slayers one-shot or an Annual. The storyline already seems crippled by all of the missing characters: Willow left early on. Xander and Dawn are keeping to themselves. Spike left. And now, the main season nine storyline is taking a three month hiatus while a new character is introduced. Doesn't seem like the best of moves, does it? It almost feels like a television series in its waning days when actors are growing restless, getting their screen time reduced for other projects, and renegotiating their contracts.

Compare this with Angel & Faith, which has forward momentum and a clear focus.
Ok my brief evaluation-
With willow gone, spike off on his own, Giles dead, we need to introduce a few new characters (just as it would happen on the show) and I find billy to be an interesting character that people may feel they can relate to. This arc has the potential to be one of the best this season, along with free fall.

Here's hoping BILLY sticks around ! :)
@Buffyfantic that's not a fanwank, that's a No-Prize solution. From Wikipedia: "a No-Prize [is] only awarded when a reader successfully explain[s] why the continuity error [is] not an error at all". (I, in one of my proudest moments, have been awarded a digital no-prize for explaining away an error in Secret Avengers. I'm that cool.)

Your no prize is a pretty good no-prize too.
I really liked the issue. It's a rare opportunity to see world-building in the Buffyverse and despite some claims that the issue would be "preachy", it felt really natural. Kudos to Jane for writing such a good story,
Oddly enough, world-building was my biggest complaint about it, or lack thereof. It adds more inconsistency and opacity to the Seedless world, zompire mythology rather than removes it. Here we are after the issue with a lot of basic world-building extreme issues like --

-- "how is an exponential growth zombie apocalypse style infeststion proliferating over several months to where people know what the things are called if they follow the right twitter feeds but no so where's you'd start seeing dystopian future like trappings of barricades and curfews?"

-- "so does this mean zompires only can enter uninvited, or that all vampires can and they just haven't clearly shown that yet?"

-- "what does the presence or absence of magic, i.e. the Seed, have to do with the basic rules of how someone becomes a vampire/zompire, and for that matter?"

I actually could go on, but from a world-building standpoint, it's clear as mud.

The things I liked about the book were just the doses of Jane-flavored dialogue -- "Cute" becoming a de facto part of Devon's name, for instance. And the crown jewel of the issue is "fighting like a girl" meant as a compliment. Still, would that this were a "Tales of the Slayer" and that we actually had read about the characters that brought us to the book in the main title for another issue. Heck, even if this issue, part 1, was a "Tales of..." and crossed over to the main title when it might be time to actually interact with Buffy.
I actually found the `message` aspect a little like being battered over the head in this one. Virtually every panel of dialogue seemed to either have Billy referring to a boy, or someone referring to him as gay to the point of within a few pages feeling like "OKAY! WE GET IT!" much as A&F has been recently with Connor/Angel. (Are we SURE Angel loves his son yet? Or that Connor forgives and understands him? No? Here's another three pages of it...)

I mean so far, the character is mainly defined by two things; "I like boys" and "he's gay."
Okay... and? So..?
It felt like a strange preaching to people who already largely couldn't give a f--- who you f---. Is this the only character trait we're meant to be interested in? Is he "(token) gay male slayer" as he's been referred to, defined by who he wants to sleep with..? Why does it matter?
I guess the sudden zompires explosion sans draconian measures didn't bother me because:

I. I kind of fan wanked that the problem was brewing low level until reaching a critical level like a pandemic.

2. Sunnyvale was completely oblivious to threats for seven years, why not the rest of the world? Granted vampires are out do I get that a plague of rabid vampires should of caused some type of government reaction. But as with many real world problems and even disasters, nothing is often done until things are catastrophic.

I actually liked seeing how other places are being impacted. I was wondering and glad we got it.

My concern is the mechanics of the fast spread. Didn't Cheung get turned fast? Did she drink? She rose at the morgue.
I must say I didn't even bother me that Buffy wasn't in the issue until all of you pointed that out. I really liked the story, it was fresh air in season 9. I wouldn't want to miss Buffy for more than a couple of issues but I like they are willing to try something new.

Also did everyone forget that issue 5 of season 8 did basically the same thing with the Buffy decoy but less preachy?
I understand this storyline has a personal impact for a lot of people and I'm respectful of that, but speaking purely for myself... I could stand a little more entertainment in my entertainment and a little less political advocacy. I've felt there's been an ongoing thread through S9 that's not particularly friendly towards conservative readers.
I thought Buffy has always been kind of unfriendly towards conservative viewers?
Those who want to take offense will always find cause, but in the past, I think Buffy has had ample room for people of all sorts of political persuasion. I generally consider myself a moderate, but when someone is stridently banging a drum on my left, I inevitably turn to my right.

To highlight this issue, Buffy has had characters for quite some time who happened to be gay, but the show has never been about very specifically being gay and championing gay until now. That's a change in tone. Why is the character named Billy? Because it sounds like Buffy. This is taking gay empowerment and elevating it right along side female empowerment (the bedrock for the whole series) by borrowing a page from the same slayer mythology to make the point. There's a place for a show doing just that, but to be perfectly honest, it's not a show I would probably choose to watch and it's not what I'm looking for when I settle in to read an issue of Buffy.

Can't Buffy be about that too though - just for a couple issues if nothing else? If this were an isolated arc in the middle of a typical season, I'd shrug and move on, but the dots are lining up. We've had an pregnancy storyline that was in no way a multifaceted approach to the issue - it landed squarely on abortion rights. We've had a bizarre "money is immoral" story where Buffy defeats a big evil corporation who's vast wealth was dubiously earned off a portal to hell - all while refusing a paycheck, because why? Having money is immoral. The decision to move the series to a city known for Left Coast "San Francisco Values" is looking deliberate to me and I'm sorry, but I'm just not enjoying the soapbox treatment.
I take issue, like some others,with the rabid spread of zompire infection in this town. If this were the way things were happening everywhere, the whole country, at least, would have been Walking Dead style post-apocalypse by a month or two after the seed broke! And the lack of precision regarding method of siring.

The no-invite thing was so glaring that I figured it was intentional. It makes sense to me that in a world without magic there wouldn't be a magic barrier, but I still hope that it was there because they're planning on addressing it soon.

...Or at least that magic will be restored and zompires will be history and we won't have to endure all this discontinuity and confusion anymore after the end of S9. I mean, I assume that'll happen, right?

That said, as itself, I enjoyed this issue (though I felt it was a wee bit heavy handed, for example the "fight like a girl" bit) but as an issue of S9 I felt a little cheated. Let's get back to the main characters next month, yes?
I enjoyed the issue much more than I thought I would and perhaps would even put it at the top of the heap for Buffy Season 9 (not Angel and Faith, though), but like aphasia mentioned, I think one of the biggest weaknesses of Buffy Seasons 8 and 9 has been disconnecting the main characters from the ongoing story itself... Buffy seems lost, Giles is dead, Xander, Dawn, Willow, AND Spike are all in various forms of being M.I.A... it's just a really meandering, almost directionless way to continue the series. I get that to an extent it's about Buffy and co. trying to figure out what to do with their lives now that they're adults, but they've been hacking away at that story for well over a decade now and have made little in the way of progress, it feels at times.
While I am a die-hard liberal democrat, I actually find myself sort of agreeing with bringiton5x5. I think the series has sort of morphed into advocacy, and when it does it takes me out of the story and into the real world. The abortion storyline was just horrible; it made no sense, did nothing of any real value and barely affected the storyline (and was not even necessary for that storyline). It seemed to flirt with controversy and then simply walked away from it completely. I am beyond happy to see a gay character in the series, but this is again almost a red coat situation, a new character with no probably staying power. It is not "ambiguously gay" Andrew no longer ambiguous, for example- that would be brave, not this.
Finally read it. Mixed feelings. Very very mixed. Billy was cute; I like him; and I like his grandmother. I even like Katie, who was in the story for all of two seconds.

However (along the lines of what Dana said), I think a story where Andrew grows up a little, comes out, and falls in love would have been more powerful (and much, much more organic). And the bit about "Slayers are always girls"--with Devon replying, in essence, "Whatever, *anyone* can be a Slayer"--did rub the wrong way.

I mean, if we lived in a post-feminist paradise where women were 100% equal, I'd be fine with throwing open the Slayer door to whomever. But since I live in ... well, America 2012, with prominent politicians talking about "binders full of women" and "legitimate rape" (not to mention the challenges women face in the developing world) ... I think there's still a place for a powerful, archetypal fictional hero who is "always, always a girl."

She can be a girl of any ethnicity, any class, any culture, any nationality, any sexual orientation .... but at the end of the day, it means something (to me) that she is A GIRL. And this issue felt a little dismissive of that, to me.

As a caveat: I am 100% supportive of the LGBT community, and I am 100% in favor of having powerful, archetypal gay male heroes. But I'm really, really ambivalent about one who is a Slayer.

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