“The Long Way Home, part two”
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artists: Georges Jeanty (p), Andy Owens (i)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Plot: The military, alarmed at the sudden population spurt in super-strong young girls, waste no time in planning a drastic sanction against the leader they’ve already met, Buffy Summers. Despite impressive security, their agent attacks her in her most vulnerable spot: her mind.
Comments: The first issue was good, setting up a new and believable status quo based on what we’d already learned and suspected of Buffy’s endeavors post-season seven, at least from the few Angel references before that show too ended. Buffy has an army of slayers (nearly 2000), who are still mostly neophytes. The top 500 and she are being more proactive about demon threats. And Xander has become her closest ally and unofficial Watcher (on Buffy’s terms, as that organization has ceased to be).
This issue we learn a bit more. Andrew’s still around (he was that important connective tissue from the Buffyverse to Angel) and still more interested in the sound of his own voice than in actually imparting useful information. Giles is training some of the Slayers (presumably not yet upgraded to Buffy’s action squads) in his own way, Buffy’s having romantic thoughts about Xander, and Willow hasn’t disappeared after all. Oh, and Dawn’s still a giant.
That last bit I lifted from the summary page of the issue itself, and it is an example of what Thom Young has referred to as writers self-referentially parodying their own lamest prose and plots. Doing Dawn the Giant would be uber-cheesy on TV; it’s not much better here, and saddling her with a physical ailment only leads to slapstick, when what the girl has always needed is a personality based on anything but neediness. She’s the weakest part of this new configuration, no big surprise there.
Did your heart skip a pat up above when I referred to Xander? Such a notion is sacrilege to some fans, but Xander’s gotten upgraded for the comic. He’s every inch the man of action and wisdom now, no longer the struggling boy-child he was even up to and after his tragic non-wedding. He’s finally worthy of Buffy’s erotic interest (recalling the sorts of guys she often goes for), but is he interested in return anymore?
Jeanty also has the best handle on him of all his likenesses; Buffy and Dawn are more generic, and we need some words to go with all those pretty Slayer faces if we’re to differentiate the masses. This translation to a new medium still has some kinks to work out, and Jeanty hasn’t really conjured enough excitement yet.
My favorite part of this story so far is the antagonist: the weapon the military have sent into Buffy’s private chambers is Amy the Witch/mouse, a character who was underserved by the series but with much more potential left to tap. And of course where there’s one witch, there’s bound to be another.
Other threads percolate under the radar: who Amy’s lover was (still held in reserve by the military), what that weird chest scar means for its recipients, which of Buffy’s old paramours is still haunting her dreams. No telling which one will come up first, but this issue was definitely familiar ground, full of intriguing incidents, funny quips, deadly danger and characterization galore. Welcome back, Buffy! You were missed!
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!