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Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

Posted: Monday, January 24, 2011
By: Shawn Hill

Joss Whedon, Scott Allie
Georges Jeanty, Andy Owns (i), Michelle Madsen (c)
Dark Horse
With Big Bad (who was really just the first Big Bad, plus a lion in flaming raiment) taken care of and big losses experienced, it's time for Buffy to put it all back together. From scraps.

Damn, Joss Whedon. He just can't let it be easy, can he? He's got a formula, and we've all noticed it by now. Even the happy endings are riven through with sadness, and even the tragedy reduces us not to complete abjection, but to boring complacency and acceptance of our limited lot in life.

Remember when Wash bit it at the end of the Serenity movie (after River impossibly killed all their enemies), just so Zoe could hurt even more? Remember how Paul bit it in the future end of Dollhouse, for absolutely no reason, just so Echo could commune with her imprints of him and all her other personalities in her dreams for the rest of her dormant life? Remember how Giles bit it last issue, after once again telling Buffy how much he loves and respects her?

Yeah, all that happened. And then Buffy disposed of the egg/heart of the world/talisman thing that allowed all magic (and demons) to exist in our world. Solving the latest apocalyptic dilemma (in this series where the mantra has become "there's ALWAYS an apocalypse"), but stripping all witches of their power, denying access to otherworldly realms, and ensuring no more slayers will ever be called.

Guess what happens when there's no more Slayer army? Slayers (those who already powered up have kept their strength) are pissed at Buffy for spoiling their revolution.

Guess what happens when there's no more magic? Willow doesn't get to go on her black-eyed trips anymore. This not only depresses Willow and Buffy, who feels sorry for hurting her friend. It's also pretty harsh on Kennedy, as Willow has decided to moon over her lamia lover for all eternity -- the one she can never see again, what with all the magic having dried up and all portals being closed -- instead of relate to the real woman in her life. She actively rejects Buffy's suggestion that she try being a computer genius again instead. That's so 1990s, Buffy!

Xander and Dawn get living together bliss, at least, except for that discordant note of Buffy rooming with them, when she should really be out on her own, doing what she's the best at what she does, will always be, can only ever do: which of course is killing vamps.

Even Giles rubs in that message from beyond the grave, leaving all his worldly possessions to Faith, while giving Buffy a book of vampire lore. Both Buffy and Faith reason that it's his way of saying that Faith remains more needy than "B" will ever be. I get it, British Giles and New England's Faith built quite the relationship this season.

But it's still a pretty grim sentence of existence for the Slayer, who's back to menial jobs because her vocation is her career is her unpaid duty, even in the face of the world's complete ingratitude. I do not know how she stays sane. Joss tries to explain his reasoning in his very forthcoming afterword, but we're all on to you now, man. You're a pessimist. It's become hard going for us, too.

Well, there's one consolation. Or two. Spike still loves her, and Angel is (deservedly so) a basket case again. I suppose he'll stay that way until Dark Horse gets his series again, which is fine by me.

There are hints that Season 9 won't try so hard to be epic. I'm in favor of that. I only hope there's a way not to punish Buffy for saving our asses again and again, too.

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