“The Long Way Home, part IV”
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artists: George Jeanty (p), Andy Owens (i)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Plot: The Little Bads (Warren and Amy, of all people) have got Willow, and Buffy and Xander and the cadre of new Slayers are beyond anxious for a retrieval mission. But they’d better be crafty about it, because of course, it’s a trap.
Comments: This issue reads exactly like a missing episode of the Buffy series. This is clearly at long last S8, and Whedon is as intent on painting the new status quo as he is in encore moments for relevant bits of past business. I’ve also totally been sold on Jeanty’s draftsmanship. This issue the battle is waged on two fronts: the mystical and the very brutally physical. Jeanty comes up with a quirky depiction of Willow’s dire mental state, including avatars of peers/protectors (one of whom I think may be the Blair Witch herself) to advise Willow on desperate solutions.
Xander has indeed stepped up, formalizing his protector status while utilizing (without magic) at long last all that military potential we knew he had in him.
Ah, the military. Again, they are the thorn in Buffy’s side, the patriarchs who need her power but fear what they can’t control. Well, sort of. Because the generals in this brigade have signed up for some questionable mumbo jumbo of their own, and Joss has always freely mixed his metaphors (of misogyny and liberation and rape and self-determination) with the literal magic he can conjure (using demons, vampires, witches, ghosts, cults, parents, teachers, boyfriends, lovers). Here it seems to be boiling down (as it usually does) to conservatives vs. radicals, with Buffy far too radical despite all her best intentions.
The comic medium is no limitation to Whedon’s visions; in fact, he’s now got all the “budget” he could ever want, as long as artists of the caliber of Jo Chen (covers) and Jeanty keep signing on.
But can he (and the future writing team) take Buffy anywhere she hasn’t been in this new medium and go beyond conjuring up old threats (nerd, witch, Initiative) from past seasons? One thing I find myself longing for at this point is a memorable new character or two, distinct from the past. That’s certainly possible, even if they must compete with the actors we remember from the past. I think my wish may be coming in the form of whatever Big Bad is brewing, though we get no hints this issue.
The potential is there to make this season crucial to the Buffy canon. In fact, I don’t even have to cross my fingers: I’m sure it will be.
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