Thursday, January 14, 2010

Whedon, Whedon, Whedon

What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #31: Turbulence (written by Joss Whedon; art by Georges Jeanty).

Timing: BtVS, Season Eight. Right after "Retreat part V."

Warning: The bigger spoilers will be written in black text. Simply highlight to read. As this is a review, there will be some minor "spoilers" sprinkled throughout the text that don't warrant being hidden. If you have not read the issue and don't want to know anything about the plot, don't read this. Spoilers for previous issues will obviously not be hidden.

REVIEW: “Retreat” was mostly hit and miss (some BIG hits, some BIG misses). Let’s move on.

Twilight was unmasked. Most of us know who he is. Some folks are scared, some folks are mad. I’m excited. Let’s move on.

And now, we’ve come to the first regular Joss Whedon issue since #19. And man. Man, oh man. Let’s start with the probably unexpected gushing.

This is the best Buffyverse comic that has come out since Brian Lynch’s pitch-perfect conclusion to ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL. This is the best issue of BUFFY: SEASON EIGHT since #16, which was the best of the whole series. So understand what I’m saying when I say how damn good this book was.

It was epic, with how it dealt with Buffy’s newfound superpowers. It picks right up from the end of “Retreat,” and her reaction to getting these new powers is just so perfect. She hides them from her friends initially, putting all this new and confusing stuff to the back of her mind to deal with the more pressing issues: taking care of the wounded and confessing her love to Xander.


I’ll get there.

But when Buffy does reveal her superpowers—pretty much because she has to, which I loved—she delivers a super iconic line that reminded me of Angel’s epic “Cue the music” from AFTER THE FALL. As Buffy is about to take flight, she says, “Thanks for the vote of no confidence and shut your mouths and look. Up in the sky.” Anyone skeptical about Buffy’s ability to fly will likely join the “WOW, THIS IS AWESOME” crowd after this issue. Say what you will about the structure and consistency of Season Eight, but Joss has been planting the narrative seeds leading up to Buffy flying since Issue #1. And man does it pay off.

The epicness isn’t even the reason this issue kicks ass. In fact, it’s how restrained the thing is that really makes it rock. After Jane’s very, very busy arc, we needed this issue. The characters needed to have the conversations they had. And man, did Joss ever do an incredible job writing them.

+ Willow and Oz talk- This was mostly here to give a context to Willow (spoilers:) getting her powers back due to some unidentified mystical fallout, but this conversation also needed to happen. Willow apologizes for ruining Oz’s peaceful home. Oz makes everything okay. I’m glad this relationship is behind handled with such delicacy. Joss writes them with respect to their deep, connecty past, but not in a way that steps on the toes of Willow’s lesbianism. She’s a lesbian, yeah, but her love for Oz as a person will never go away. I dig that.

+ Buffy and Riley- Cute, funny, sad. Whedonesque.

+ Twilight talks all evilly. Man. Not saying anything. But man oh man. This is dire.

+ Buffy and a solider from Twilight’s army- Perhaps the saddest thing in the season since Xander’s collapse at Renee’s death. I won’t talk much about this, because I don’t want to ruin the punch this scene packs, but it’s short, surprising, sad, and so so necessary. Beautifully done.

+ And speaking of beautifully done. Buffy confronts Xander about Dawn, and also confesses her feelings to him. And he (SPOILERS:) approaches the situation from the same way I am. He doesn’t believe he. He points out that she went through trying to change her sexual orientation before she considered the option of liking him. Buffy remains adamant that she has feelings for him, and he accepts this… and, actually, I do too. Whedon writes the conversation with such tenderness that speaks volumes for how much he knows the characters and their friendship. And that dialogue. Would it be too much to say that it’s never been better? Because it’s maybe never been better.

Utterly fantastic issue. Season Eight looks like it’s back on track. Can’t wait to see what Brad Meltzer brings to the table.

Art: Jeanty’s art isn’t quite back to what it was in the first third of Season Eight, but it’s getting there. There are more standout panels than there usually are, and the only scene that jumps out as “just okay” is the scene between Oz and Willow. The rest ranges from good to… well, great. Jeanty handled the conversation pieces really, really well. The scene between Buffy and Xander just plays wonderfully. I’m not sure if it’s a case of “Uh oh, Joss is back, I have to make this one amazing” or if it’s how smaller the cast of this issue is, but Jeanty’s art here gives me a happy.

Covers: Jo Chen’s cover features Willow trying to blast back one of the Tibetan goddesses. I like the cover. It’s not one of her best, but she’s created such a catalogue of amazing covers that it’s going to be harder and harder for her covers to get that “Man, this is one of Chen’s best” reaction, because there are just so damn many great ones. Jeanty’s cover is a cheesy homage, which he’s been digging recently. And I do like this one. It works for the issue, for sure. In fact, because of the concept and its relevance to the issue, it might even be my favorite cover for the issue.

Characters We Know: Buffy, Oz, Willow, Xander, Dawn, Riley, Twilight, Faith, Giles, Andrew, Kennedy, Satsu.

Rating: 10/10


Anonymous said...

This was a breath of fresh air. I hope Brad can keep the momentum.

sarahww said...

Loved this episode. Thank God Whedon scraped together the pieces of what was fast becoming a semi-train wreck and turned it into a deeply connected and affecting episode. I think the best part about it was that, as you pointed out, the character moments were so strong that it made me care about the plot again.

And Twilight?? Yeah, I'm really curious to see how they explain this one.

ryan said...

Buffy Season 8 is finally getting good again!! As for timing this happens a day after Turbulence. Loved how it used Uncanny X-men style character profiles lettering! Comics should be 25 pages instead!

アルバート・エルナンデス said...

Okay, I know this is old. I've been thinking about this quite a bit. Dawn was created from Buffy. What if her feelings for Xander are really Buffy's feelings for him, only without all the emotional baggage of her other relationships. Of if, the monks took Xander's dna to create Dawn and he and Buffy are unknowingly her parents. I mean they gave off that family vibe in the beginning of season 7. So in essence, if he doubts Buffy's love...he's really doubting Dawn's as well because that's where they came from in the beginning.