What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #6: No Future For You pt 1 (written by Brian K. Vaughan)
Timing: BtVS Season Eight, follows the events of "The Long Way Home"
REVIEW: This was by far and away the best issue of Season Eight so far. But let's back track a little before we get too ahead of ourselves.
There has never been a Faith-centric episode before in either "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or "Angel." I hear the gasps now. "What about Revelations, Bad Girls, Sanctuary, Orpheus, Who Are You, or Dirty Girls?" I see your point, guys. Faith was a major character in those. But those episodes aren't Faith-centric the way that 'The Zeppo' is Xander-centric, and 'Real Me' is Dawn-centric. See, in those Faithy episodes, we mostly just see Faith through other people's eyes. 'Who Are You?' is the exception to that, but even in that episode, we just see Faith simultaneously trying mess up/live Buffy's life. But here, we get a full on Faith-centric story, with the Bad Girl herself as the main character. That went on a little longer than I thought it would, for the record.
About the comic. It's, as they say, gold. The story was told perfectly, without the sometimes confusing transitions that made up "The Chain" and were sometimes present in "The Long Way Home." Each scene is given ample time to play out, and--instead of huge, swooping revelations and the return of old characters aplenty--what Vaughan concentrates on here is the subtle way each character's personalities reveal themselves when said characters talk to each other. The best examples of this are the Faith/Giles scenes in this issue: In a few short pages, so much seems to happen between these two characters. He gives her a mission (introducing the main plot of this arc), he trains her (and he SPOILER: gets stabbed by her with a SPOILER: fork), and the two of these characters connect and relate to each other in a way that they never have on the actual show.
The Buffy/Xander scene is interesting, but doesn't reveal much. It's funny, because I--and many other Season Eight readers--were under the impression that black borders on a page mean that it's a dream sequence. However, the Buffy and Xander conversation, black borders and all, seems utterly real. There was no indication whatsoever that the conversation was part of a dream; my only guess is that it was black-bordered because, perhaps, Buffy talks to Xander about dreams that she HAS been having, but other than than, I'm coming up with nothing.
Now, this is usually where I start to get into the downside of the comic, but turns out that there really isn't any. All I have as of complaints is something about Giles' attire that I'll bring up in the ART section, but everything else here seems perfectly fine. Vaughan's writing is perfect in capturing the characters, and he clearly is a great comic-script writer. If I were to say anything I didn't like about this issue, it wouldn't be part of the story. It's actually something that I read in the "Slay the Critics" section. Someone wrote in to ask the question many of have been debating on since the release of Issue #3. "If Warren didn't die, how could The First Evil take on his form in Season Seven." Joss himself actually stopped in to answer that question. His answer is, and I quote, "He was legally dead for like a second. Amy didn't tell him 'cause she didn't want to upset him. I forgot, okay?!" One thing I've always admired about Joss Whedon is the attention that he gives to continuity, and I admit that it's very big of him to admit his error. However, I think he could've explained it away much better and made the fans much happier than the way he answered it. Warren very plainly tells Willow in Issue #4 that her "Bored now" were the last words he heard of his human life. Well then. Joss simply could've said that the fact that Amy's magic--not at all a human, or living, function--was sustaining Warren, and that he--like a vampire--was to be considered UNDEAD. That would allow for him to be the walking, talking thinger that he is AND for The First to appear as him. But oh well. There's our answer.
Oh, by the way, that in no way is meant to be an insult to Joss. I love the guy. Hell, I'm known for putting the smack down on anyone who disses him. I just kinda felt we deserved a better explanation than that, is all.
But, about the actual comic itself, it's great. Really great. Up until today, "The Long Way Home part 3" was my favorite issue of the series. Well, it's just moved to second place, because "No Future For You part I" rocks out with its youknowwhat out.
Art: Reading this felt like watching an episode of Buffy. The art was atmospheric and spot-on. The panelling of the issue was interesting, and really different than that of Issues 1-5. And different is always intriguing. There was more use of the empty white space in some pages, and I liked that. The scene with Lady Genevieve is particularly beautiful, and it makes me realize how much I missed Georges' art. About what I mentioned before though. Giles' shirt. It's just.... no. Really, really no. Please, never again Georges.
Characters We Know: Faith, Robin Wood, Giles, Buffy, Xander
Speculation: I might be jumping the gun, but I think that Roden, the "Irish witch" and/or "passably attractive warlock" is going to be the Big Bad of Season Eight. He is, by the looks of it, both powerful and manipulative, and seems like he might be around for the longrun. To make a connection to Issue #1, I'm also thinking he's the guy who was flying over the castle. Yup, the much-speculated-upon booted man. I've heard people guess that the booted man was Spike, Angel, General Voll, and even Riley (!?). Problem with that? None of the above can fly. I'm willing to bet that if this Roden guy can conjure rock monsters out of his hands with no trouble at all, he can surely fly. Plus, he's got a friggin' Twilight book (or is it a portfolio folder? ;]) in his hands. This is surely our man.
*I'd give it a classic 10/10 rating, but as it's only the first issue of a four issue arc, I think I'll see how the next few go before I start dishing out 10/10s.