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Buffy the Vampire Slayer #6

Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2007
By: Ray Tate

"No Future For You"

Writer: Brian K. Vaughn, Joss Whedon (Show Runner)
Artists: Georges Jeanty(p), Andy Owens(i), Dave Stewart(c)
Publisher: Dark Horse

"In every generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer....You're the one who sees everything, aren't you....Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the Scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up. Will stand up. Slayers....Every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong..."

The superb ending of Season Seven was foreshadowed early in the series when the Master, killed Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her death called another girl to take her place as the Slayer. Xander however saved Buffy with CPR. For the first time in history, through a loophole in the spell that made the Slayers, two Slayers operated simultaneously. That second Slayer was Kendra. When she was killed, Faith was called.

From the wrong tracks, badly managed by her Watcher, who was slain by a Big Bad, Faith had to deal with her powers on her own. The Hellmouth attracted her like a humming bird to nectar, and soon she found belonging amongst Buffy and her crew. Unfortunately, Faith teetered to the side of power that Lord Acton spoke of: "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely..."

Her wildness wasn't a problem. The problem was that it went unchecked. Faith seduced Buffy to mischief, but this ended when Faith accidentally killed a human being then framed Buffy for the crime. She soon allied herself to the demonic Mayor of Sunnydale, but what she was really looking for was a father figure, a place to fit in and how to cope with the guilt of her crime. Faith fought against Buffy, but Buffy overcame her "dark sister."

After awaking from her coma, Faith hired herself out as a mercenary and tortured her former ineffective Watcher Wesley Wyndham-Price, who briefly replaced Giles. Even while being tortured, the now more experienced Wesley attempted to atone for his misdeeds by trying to reach the fallen Slayer. He planted the seeds of Faith's redemption. Through a magical switch of minds, Faith finally found out what it was like to be Buffy. Buffy was genuinely loved, and this was the first time Faith ever experienced the powerful emotion. Angel delivered the final blow. The vampire with a soul knew well what it was like to fight a demon inside, and his empathy turned Faith back to the side of the Slayers. Faith turned herself in for manslaughter.

When the First Evil began her attacks against Buffy and the Chosen Ones to be--selected by careful observation through the decimated Watcher's Council, Faith was not forgotten, as she thought. Buffy and her crew, as confirmed by Willow, believed that Faith would be safer in prison. Buffy and the Scooby Gang however were mistaken. The First Evil's cult attempted to kill Faith, but all the creature did was give Buffy yet another weapon in which to destroy its army of pure vampires. In the final battle of Season Seven, Faith fought alongside her Slayer Sisters and survived. What would become of her was anybody's guess; Brian K. Vaughn and Joss Whedon give an answer.

The story opens with Faith still on the side of The Slayers. Her former lover Robin Wood calls her not for the companionship that Faith hopes but for a dirty job. He sends her to hunt down a recently vampirized mother whose instincts twisted preys upon the children. Faith is too late to save any of the children, and Faith must destroy the vampires that have pervaded their bodies.

The dustings occur "off screen." The writers direct Georges Jeanty's choreography to heighten the drama. Sound effects and shadows indicate the physical impact of Faith's execution of the vampire brood, but this elimination is unlike most. A tragedy occurred in the house. It's depicted in the photographic remnants of the family. The "camera" pulls back farther and farther to distance the reader from the former domesticity. It's no longer a house. It's an abandoned, empty place, not because Faith destroyed the vampires, but because the creatures murdered the family that lived in that house; a house incidentally that would allow any vampire entry. Joss Whedon's vampires, as with the monsters of legend, cannot enter a home without being invited. No invitation is needed here. The occupants are dead. The house is a shell.

The mother died the moment the vampire drained her. In Whedon's universe, a vampire kills its prey. The prey's soul is released, and a demon takes its place. The demon wears the corpse like a costume designed for subterfuge. The demon pieces together a rudimentary personality from the echoes of the victim's personality and exploits these imprints for the hunt.

The psychological impact of Faith's slaying arises from the next pages of the story. The day breaks. Faith returns home, and rather than exalt her victory, in frustration she punctures the wall with a stake. This scene displays Faith's psyche. How she feels about the dirty jobs, how she felt about ending the vampires who took the forms of dead children.

Faith is more than a simple bad girl, the flipside of Buffy. She is a human being who has feelings. She believes she failed. She failed to stop the mother. She failed to stop the killing of the children. All she could do was clean up, and because of the vampires' guises she feels as though she has killed children. Even convincing herself that these were not kids but vampires, even knowing it to be true, does not in her mind absolve, for she believes that she failed as a Slayer to stop the spread of vampirism. Failure is failure, and it weighs down heavily on Faith.

Vaughn and Whedon in a later scene revisit Faith's disgust in herself. Giles, the Watcher of all Watchers, is waiting for Faith to come home. The Slayers have another dirty job for her to perform, and while Giles explains in detail, he casually touches her. Giles meant nothing by the touch, but it instills painful memories in Faith, who reacts violently. Seeing Faith in pain is heartbreaking. Vaughn and Whedon make you feel for a character fleshed out even more on television by Eliza Dushku. It is very easy to hear Dushku's hurt voice in these scenes. Part of that illusion can be attributed to Jeanty's dead-on artistic mimicry of the actors' appearances and their body language, but it's more of a testament to the writing, which is flawless.

The dirty job Giles has for Faith seems to be her ticket to peace, but I have a suspicion. I believe that the setup is more about Faith then about assassination. It's a question over how far will she go, and ultimately, her humanity will win out.

The Slayer Handbook: Slayer Speak & Pop Culture References

Noob Squad--Faith's euphemism for Robin Wood's Slayer Squad, which is likely rooted in the slang term Newbie. Faith actually has a distinctive "dialect" from other Slayers and the Scoobs. This will be noted when pertinent.

Yellow Submarine--Vehicle of choice for the cartoon version of the Beatles, seen on Giles' pullover.

"Clocked"--Faith slang for seen or met.

"Sunny D went from being an outie to an innie."--Faith's accurate navel analogy for Sunnydale's implosion in Season Seven.

The Sunnydale Swim Team--Xander joined in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as indicated on his tee-shirt.

The Doctor--half-human, heroic renegade Time Lord, seen here in cameo in his tenth incarnation with Rose Tyler, his treasured companion. The stars of Doctor Who, the longest running science fiction program in the history of television. There has been some debate about how much or whether or not Doctor Who influenced Joss Whedon. Confirmation seemed to occur when Dawn made her appearance and was revealed to be a human incarnation of a magical key sought by Glory an evil goddess. Dawn's nature was very much like that of the Princess Astra who was revealed to be the last piece to the Key to Time sought by the White and Black Guardians in a Doctor Who story thread during the mid-seventies.

Debrett's Correct Form--An actual book on etiquette first published circa 1900. (wiki)

Five by Five--Faithspeak for everything's fine. Five-by-Five has actually a long history regarding the audio quality of radio-signals among the military personnel. (wiki)

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