Buffy the Vampire Slayer #40

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
Joss Whedon returns to the status quo of Season One of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy will fight the vampires alone. Her friends no longer share in the battle. Her army will no longer follow. She still has vampire back up, but Buffy is the sole protector.

This issue marks the end of my association with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book. I wish it were otherwise, but this epilogue to one of the lousiest Buffy the Vampire Slayer story arcs convinces me that Whedon treads a path that never will be corrected.

In the televised Season Seven, Whedon did something astounding. He freed his creation. Through Buffy and Willow, he empowered every girl in the world. He left the airwaves on the highest note, one that reverberated long after the players took their bows and left the stage. Whedon basically said to the audience, Buffy is no longer under mine nor anybody else's control. She is writing the neverending story now.

Things started off extremely well for the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book. Each arc presented an entertaining next step for Buffy and the Slayer army. None of these stories had to be written because Season Seven presented a definite end. However, you were glad that Whedon and his colleagues wrote these tales. The only clunker of the bunch appeared to be the all Harmony issue, but then things went royally pear-shaped with "Twilight."

The more I look at "Twilight" the more I see it as a means to regain dominance of the characters that Whedon set free. For example, Whedon frequently mentioned the multiverse pre-"Twilight." He seemed to suggest that the future of Fray was only a potential and not the one Buffy will forge. After "Twilight," Whedon left the impression that Fray's future is inevitable, as is Willow's. The mention of a multiverse came to naught, and the means in which Whedon closed that door demonstrated some of the most egregious contrivances. A multiverse of course would have rescued the book from fatalism.

The revelation of Angel being "Twilight" smacked of desperation. There was simply no reason for it. Whedon could have gotten to this point of Buffy being the only Slayer without scorching Angel in the process. Angel grew into a powerful figure during his battles against Wolf, Ram and Hart. The idea that he could be taken over so easily is simply lame. This is especially true given that Angel is actually two entities. Angel combats Angelus the vampire on a daily basis. We learn in Angel that Angel in fact became attuned to Barry Manilow at first to torture and weaken Angelus.

Knocking Angel out of the story only appears to be Whedon's way of setting up Spike as Buffy's vampire guardian. So he stains one character to instigate a trade-off? Whedon's never going to be able to convince me that this was the original plan. I believe Twilight, like DC's infamous Monarch, was meant to be somebody else; some insignificant somebody from Sunnydale High who obsessed over Buffy and the gang but someone the Scoobies didn't know. Either that, or he was meant to be Ethan Rayne, allegedly killed during the first arc.

"Every girl in the world who might be a Slayer. Will be a Slayer." This no longer applies. Girls can now be victimized again. The Slayer survivors of the Twilight debacle still retain their power, but nobody else can become a Slayer, and the witches are no more. With this move, Whedon actually backtracks on the very things Buffy the Vampire Slayer represented. Originally, Whedon created Buffy because he felt sorry for the girl victims in monster movies. Buffy was the victim fighting back and succeeding. Some may argue that concept hasn't changed. I disagree.

The Slayer Army as percussion from Buffy's drum intensified the symbolism of girl power. By taking away the Slayers, Whedon makes Buffy simply a character. In effect, by removing the force of empowerment, he creates female victims to serve only a function in the story. It's over, you see. Buffy Summers is merely only fiction, not an avatar of feminism. The stories from here on out are merely fancies. Whedon is in control again, and the spin-off nature of the comic book is more explicit.

I'll miss the artwork of Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens and Michelle Madsen most of all. In this issue they excel. Detailed illustration mimics the cast's look and behavior. The fighting scenes are fantastic, and Buffy's rocking a new superhero styled outfit. I know it's time to move on because as much as I loved the art, it still could not pull me into the story. The visuals are moving when Buffy confronts friends such as Willow and even Kennedy. The scenes seem like quintessential Buffy as she listens with Faith to Giles' last will and testament, yet I only felt that all these scenarios were artifice, even with Madsen making the subtle move of tingeing Buffy's eyes teary red. I could not become involved. I blame Joss Whedon for that.

To be sure, I'm not angry at Dark Horse. I don't wish its dissolution. I'm angry at Whedon, but not Barbara Gordon-crippling angry. I haven't given up hope. This isn't a boycott. I fully intend to occasionally pick up an issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to see if it has improved from the "Twilight" debacle, but the days that Buffy the Vampire Slayer can be counted among my subscription list titles are over.

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