This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Do you trust me?"
11980 members | you are not logged in | 21 June 2018


August 21 2013

(SPOILER) Discuss Dark Horse Presents #27. Jane Espenson and Karl Moline's Billy story comes to a conclusion

Looking forward to this one. I've enjoyed Billy since Day 1, and I like his cute little romance with Devon. I also enjoy seeing what life in the Buffyverse is like away from our main characters, so Billy returning to his small town is fun stuff. Reminds me of those classic horror movies where a small town is descended upon by monsters (The Fog) or serial killers (Scream).
I was delighted and surprised to see the Primitive Slayer, plus the implication that she has tapped in Billy rather than the other way around. Looking forward to seeing more of Billy in BtVS Season Ten!
I really enjoyed this three-part (mini) mini-series, and it made me truly invested in Billy, Devon, and Anaheed(!). Sadly, I know they won't be able to get back with the main cast in time for the finale, which means the Primitive's tapping of Billy is going to be a huge loose end going in to Season 10.

Oh, the agony of this coming hiatus!
Don't think of it as a loose end---think about it as a teaser for next season! Like how Restless foreshadowed much of Season 5. ;)

I, too, enjoy Billy, Devon, Skye, Katie and Anaheed. I would read a miniseries focusing on these characters in Santa Rosita.

[ edited by watcherinthewoods on 2013-08-21 19:30 ]
I'm wondering if him tapping into the first slayer took place after magic is restored in the Buffy's finale.
Not necessarily, as the First Slayer tapped into him.
I was hoping Billy's arc was going to be accepting that he's not a "Slayer" but can still make a difference, and just be a new Badass Normal after a couple of hard knocks. I don't like the idea that he and the hot guy at school who just happens to be gay as well cooked up this idea of him being a "Slayer," a propos hardly anything, and then the forces of magic itself signal that he really is one somehow?

Unless this is all part of some larger plot that Buffy 25 will clear up. Like when magic comes back online, maybe the 'calling' rules are different. But I hope it's not that. If Season Nine ended with super strong Xander staking Simone that would be pretty interesting, but all the same... I doubt it's what this means.

I think this might could just be a lame sentimental story for a poorly conceived character.
My fear is that they will throw the baby out with the bathwater by making it possible for boys to be Slayers as well as girl. That would be recidivism for sure.
It's important that Billy is a Vampire Slayer and not a "badass normal". He is not like Xander or Giles. We already have tons of characters like that. As a male Vampire Slayer (albeit one who's not actually been called), he is unique.

I just don't get the hostility towards Billy the Vampire Slayer. Frankly, it comes off as borderline homophobia.

[ edited by watcherinthewoods on 2013-08-22 04:02 ]
Of course it does. How could reasonable and well-intentioned people ever disagree about a character like Billy?

To recap the entirely orientation neutral, literary reasons to find the character tiresome --

- announced on the basis of a single personal attribute
- introduced with almost "Remember the New Guy" ease
- lacking any discernible personality flaws, liked pretty immediately by every one he meets
- specially picked out by the spirit of the First Slayer (despite both the always amusing "lack of magic" and the fact that he has absolutely no literal connection to the Slayer line whatsoever) for special blessing of some kind.

And, as to that notice from Sineya... not Robin Wood, the presumably very rare creature of a Slayer's offspring (as most are short-lived and all are fairly young), nor Harth Fray, a surely just as rare creature in the male fraternal twin of a Slayer (didn't happen unless they retcon it in later). These... these are too beneath the notice of the spirit of the First Slayer. It takes a teenager who apparently read the wikipedia entry for Slayer and decided it sounded like him and killed some sub-vampires to be apparently the first male to get her attention and curiousity and approval. Sounds legit :)

Agree with Liam and Dana in the entirety.
Maybe he was drawn to dreading the Wikipedia entry on Slayers because he'd already in some way been noticed/tapped/chosen but had no conscious awareness of it.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2013-08-22 06:35 ]
Homophobia? What? Come on.

My opposition to Billy as a Slayer is that it subverts the entirety of Buffy. Buffy was about female empowerment. I will not wax on at length, but if indeed Billy is made a Slayer, what is that telling us? That you have to be gay to be a Slayer if you are male (and just think of the possible ways to read that!)? That the world of Buffy just got upturned? Why Billy? What makes him special, in all the world? That wanting makes it so?

I just feel like they are taking the Buffy world to places I never oculd have seen it go.
I'd thought one of the consequences of female empowerment is that it's ok for men to have female role models, take on traditional female roles. For the first time in the history of the world, a man had really wanted to be a Slayer. No wonder The First Slayer noticed. I quite like this direction.
I liked this story overall. I've never disliked Billy, even though his part in the Scooby Gang felt dull. I mean, he just joins the team, without debate (I guess this is some off-page stuff, too bad) and then doesn't have a lot of interaction with the group.

Love VS Life is a proof that Billy CAN be part of the team. This little scene between Buffy and Billy was great, exactly what was lacking in the main book. The final 'twist' is interesting too, a nice teaser for S10 I guess. I just hope they will deliver something surprising and not some OMG-boys-can-be-slayers-now stuff. That would really bother me. I don't think you can mess up that way with a 20 years old mythos, and I don't think this is going to happen. At least I hope so ...

Simon, done this way, this storyline may be nice ! Wait & see !

[ edited by Stelian on 2013-08-22 17:56 ]

[ edited by Stelian on 2013-08-22 18:00 ]
Buffy being a role model for a male is not something new or even interesting, either in universe or in real life. I mean, for pete's sake, how much more on the nose can it be that the series wanted to say it's just fine for men to have female role models than for Xander to literally claim he asks himself "what would Buffy do?" How much more anvilicious than that? The same character who Buffy had to actually tell at one point that he isn't the Slayer.

Turned out, the show had already ably covered the point that while a) anybody can be a good role model regardless of sex/race/creed/national origin/etc, b) the power of positive thinking does not in fact bend reality. Except that now it does, in the form of easily the most Stu/Sue character the show had done since "Superstar", except for how in "Superstar" they were kidding, merely thinking one is a Slayer is enough to just... be one. Tangibly, actually, become.

Forget the optics, which are dubious enough, what mythological sense can that ever make? Why has nobody been able to, for instance, think themselves vampire? The closest thing we can possibly reach for is D'Hoffryn reaching out to Anya, but he was drawn more to her vindictive quality, not her belief that she's a vengeance demon already (also, he's not dead as Sineya ostensibly is and his mere contact with Anya not as continuity-screwy as Sineya appearing at all right now, to anybody). And if Sineya were doing what D'Hoffryn were doing, what would seem to make sense would be being either drawn to the attributes of Slayer-ness, rather than the self-appointed brand, and/or an actual, tangible connection to the Slayer line.

To the first notion, that it's about the qualities of Slayer-ness, duty, mission, sacrifice, etc -- doesn't seem credible that Billy would merit notice across all the hundreds of years that nobody else did. No particularly non-patriarchal transcendant Watcher, no general purpose demon hunter, etc. Just and only Billy.

To the second notion, that it's about a connection to the Slayer line, that's my point about Robin or Harth. It's one thing to believe that Sineya has Buffy on speed-dial across even a magicless world, and I could see how they might stretch that to her taking an interest in Slayerspawn or Slayertwin. Not much apparent reason why Billy, though.

And to gift Billy over and above the actual Slayer there present?

Dana, damn skippy about the themes. Best case, the new vision is that the Slayer metaphor has been repurposed into a catch-all, minority empowerment deal and that it will carry troubling implications as to which of what rates higher in the Slayer pecking order (for instance, Billy over Anaheed). Worst case, it is just as simple as implying that gay men are close enough women that they still count, which I have always been told is about the most base and crass way to categorize gay men.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2013-08-22 18:03 ]
I don't think anyone need worry that "boys will become magicaly-powered slayers:. A quote from Joss:

N: I have a question about “Billy the Vampire Slayer” (the recently introduced first male vampire slayer in Season 9): I really like this character, and I’m glad there’s finally an openly gay male character in the Buffyverse, but even though he’s a gay guy, I also feel he’s more of a transgender metaphor. I don’t know if that’s deliberate or not, but the idea that he says, “I’m a slayer because I choose to say I am, whether or not biology dictates that I am” seems like a transgender metaphor.

JW: A little bit; When Drew Greenberg and Jane Espenson pitched it, my only interest was to make sure we didn’t take something away from women. I’d always been very deliberate about why there would never be a male slayer. But when they pitched it, they wanted something that resonated on a certain level that would actually be empowering in that sort of spectrum that is all-inclusive, so I think the transgender thing is a little part of it.
I'd thought one of the consequences of female empowerment is that it's ok for men to have female role models, take on traditional female roles. For the first time in the history of the world, a man had really wanted to be a Slayer. No wonder The First Slayer noticed. I quite like this direction.

Yes, yes, and yes! This is how I interpret Billy. As a gay male, the character really resonates with me. I have "looked up to" Buffy in the same sense, as much as one can "look up to" a fictional character. I'm excited to see his role expand in Season 10.
Back to Harth receiving the Slayer "legacy" instead of Mel:

We know that everything currently happening is in someway a setup for the Fray future, so what if Sineya's "tapping" of Billy (whatever we're interpreting it to be) is a one-time deal?

In the panels of Fray, we're shown Buffy and her mystical allies (including other slayers) fighting in the final battle and vanishing. We've also been told that there will be no new slayers called between now and then.

What if Billy's "tapping" is the loophole that was needed for Harth to get the memories while Melaka only gets the strength?

I have no problems with that. I've always wondered how that happened anyway.
Watcherinthewoods, I read Joss' comment as a response to the question, indicating that he had not actually ever thought of Billy as a transgender metaphor until he was asked. I am a solid reader response guy, but I am not sure I see it- Billy is gay, not trans, and I think one could make a much stronger case of trans by actually bringing in someone who is trans- though it took long enough to get a gay man into the series as it was (Larry notwthstanding).

KOC- your final paragraph is the precise concern I am referring to. You said it better than I ever could.

The comic keeps undoing everything Buffy the TV show accomplished. It really worries me. Cosmic fracking, Buffy sleeping with the guy trying to kill her, her lack of agency and consent(or sex with her abuser), Billy the slayer. I invest in this show, and I cannot just read it and take it at face value. I never did when it was on, and these readings subvert what came before in ways I find uncomfortable.
Sineya is the given name of the First Slayer.

Benrock, the attempt to draw an origin to Harth occurred to me as well, but I don't think this really explains anything that "because twins" didn't adequately explain, and it still leaves us with the inexplicable question of what, mythologically, any of it has to do with Billy. Harth is Melaka's sibling, plus metaphysical twin juju, so okay. What's Billy got to do with any of that, though?

I mean, they could run with Billy being the scion of Sineya's own bloodline somehow or something? That certainly wouldn't do anything but exarcerbate the Stu-ishness of him, but at least it would address the plot/continuity incoherence of him being a player in the Slayer mythos purely because he felt like calling himself one. Did he get a blood transfusion as a child from a Potential? Which... okay, if you're willing to ignore that's exactly the sort of thing people come up with in fanfic to invent a male Slayer and have typically been deservedly booed for chucking the metaphor in favor of wish fulfillment. Or, it's the sort of thing people have come up with for a villainous male to do to try to become a Slayer because misogyny/patriarchy-as-villain.
When did the First Slayer get a name? I have always known her as the First Slayer or the Primitive.
Poor Billy. :-/ I don't understand the bashing of such a likeable character.

Oh well. Dark Horse and Joss are invested in him, and that satisfies me.
She is named in the enjoining spell in "Primeval", actually --

We enjoin that we may inhabit the vessel, the hand/
daughter of Sineya, first of the ones

The "daughter" being Buffy, where they are trying to all go; the daughter of "Sineya, first of the ones", i.e. the First Slayer.

EDIT: People don't react well to characters that pretty thoroughly embody the Mary Sue/Gary Stu trope, and Billy has been this from pretty much day one. Another way to put it would be that he is the Wesley (Crusher, not Wyndham-Pryce). I don't know if they felt that they had to wrap him in stu-ness to celebrate the fact that he was the NOGMC, but it was a bad call either way.

Hate to say that on the depiction of a gay male character, I think "Teen Wolf" has beaten "Buffy" up and taken its lunch money, having not one but several, none of whom have to be super-awesome and super-liked by super-everybody and snowflaked up one end and down the other to be enjoyed by the audience or other characters. One of them is even an ostensible villain/morally ambiguous character without it being considered a reflection on his entire orientation.

[ edited by KingofCretins on 2013-08-22 19:57 ]
Wow. I guess all these years I missed that. Thanks.
I don't agree that he's that type of character, and I think it's insulting and degrading to label him as such. In fact, I think many people (not you or anyone here) could use that type of criticism as thinly-veiled homophobia. Billy is great and should be embraced by all readers.

I enjoy characters who are generally good. Not gray, morally ambiguous characters, but straight-up (ahem), good-hearted, nice people. Billy embodies those qualities.

P.S. I loved Wesley Crusher!

[ edited by watcherinthewoods on 2013-08-22 20:01 ]
Not for nothing, but Wesley is generally thought to be one of the most archetypal Sue/Stu characters ever, so it's not a comparison that's easy to welcome, while still arguing that Billy isn't from that same cloth.

Whether you think anyone *could* use the argument that way, there's no facts upon which you could argue anyone *is* using the argument that way, because the argument is very easy to make on a literary level.
kingofcretins, I think Archie has beaten Buffy and Teen Wolf...
Billy is just as loveable as Kevin Keller.

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home