What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #10: Anywhere But Here (written by Joss Whedon)
Timing: BtVS Season Eight, follows the events of "No Future For You Part 4"
REVIEW: "Anywhere But Here" is the most fully realized Buffy: Season Eight comic released by Dark Horse, as it offers a solid, twenty-five page story that reads as if it were an entire arc. It's not perfect (the way they defeat the villain is a bit lame), but it did more than I could have ever expected a one-shot to do. It's so crammed with story and zingy dialogue that it took me a long, long time to read. At least forty minutes, I'd say. The structure of the story (what with Buffy and Willow's 'fantasy' sequences and, later, their visions of the future/past) is a bit experimental but, unlike the previous one-shot in this series "The Chain," this actually worked. Well.
There were a lot of revelations (How did Dawn become a giant? Can we get a look at Kenny? How does Buffy have money for all these high-tech thingers? Where the blip is Kennedy?) as well as references to past events, all of them with new plot twists attached on the end. I love how Joss is daring enough to put a scene in this book like the Kennedy/Willow scene, which is sure to be controversial with fans of the Scooby core-relationship as well as a few still-sore Willow/Tara lovers. I couldn't have loved this development more though and this little (or huge) drama is something that I feel Willow's character has needed for a long time. Her arc in Season Seven was pretty much "I was evil, can't do magic, Kennedy is hot!" which was a little disappointing, considering her monumental role in Season Six. But here, a spin is finally put on the once-bland Willow/Kennedy relationship. With Dawn finally revealing how she was "embiggened" and Buffy reeling from Willow's revelation of why she doesn't bring Kennedy around, this series continues to heat up like a tea kettle that Giles has left on for too long. In a good way.
On a lighter note, this is also the funniest issue. In this dialogue heavy issue (and with Joss writing, that's a plus), I'd have to give the best line to Willow, for something she says while describing a fantasy of her's to Buffy: "It's too dangerous! We can shi down these crazy alps in the morning, but till then, television's Tina Fey... we must find a way to keep warm."
I also have to mention--and I know you've heard this before, but it's a must I mention this--how nice it is to see a fan of this show, Robin Balzer, immortalized in the pages of this comic. Robin and Jerrod, congratulations on this. Robin was chosen well (in real life, as well as the character!) and I think it's awesome of Dark Horse and Joss to reach out to the fans like this. It warms a guy's heart, no?
Art: Cliff Richards handles the pencils for this one-shot. We know him from his work on Dark Horse's first run of BtVS (if you have the Omnibuses, he did the arcs set between "The Origin" and Season One), and he does alright here. I don't like how he shades by simply drawing lines across the character's faces. Neither of our two main Buffyverse artists (Jeanty and Franco) do this, and the end result often looks weird. Also, when he depicts a character with a shadow across their face, he simply draws a hard line down the center of their faces. It just doesn't look real. That being said, some panels are very good. While I might have liked his style better in the older books, he is good enough that his art doesn't take away from the enjoyment. His art isn't as visually pleasing as Jeanty or Urru's, but it sure ain't bad. As for the covers, we've got a whopper from Jo Chen. Many people are calling her cover for this issue the best they've seen and, for one, no one is hating on the Georges cover. Both are great. However, I feel we should have gotten a 1:10 Cliff Richards cover. When Paul Lee guest-pencilled Issue #5, we got a cover from the main two artists AND Paul Lee. This should have been the same.
Characters We Know: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Dawn, Kennedy
Season Eight Recurring Characters We Know: Satsu, Leah (only from afar)
Speculation: (highlight to read)
Don't have much this issue, which is odd, seeing how revealy it was. We know that Willow isn't bringing Kennedy around because off what happened with Tara. Willow feels that when she resurrected Buffy, she chose Buffy over Tara, thus putting Tara in the path of a bullet. She, Willow, could have recovered from Buffy's death and raised Dawn in a nice place, away from Sunnydale, with Tara by her side. They could have remained at peace, and so could have Buffy. But all she thought about was bringing Buffy back. I don't think this is going to result in more "I wish I would have stayed dead" drama from Buffy, because that was covered two seasons ago, but I'm glad that these things are finally being addressed. I would have never been able to come up with an idea like that, and seeing Buffy react to finding out about this was emotionally riveting. I can't even begin to guess where that story is going to take us.