Sunday, September 09, 2007

Review - Buffy Season 8 #5

By Joss Whedon, Paul Lee & Andy Owens
Colors by Dave Stewart, Letters by Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy
Published by Dark Horse Comics, August 2007. $2.99

Joss Whedon has weaved his basic themes of redemption, equality, and female empowerment in all of his stories and here he is doing it again with confidence. A decoy Buffy, explored in this issue, received her powers with a shock of thunderous pain, along with the bonus prize of shared memories and the legacy of female strength. A hilarious television commercial is presented by Andrew, who I imagine is functioning in a public relations capacity, which calls back to his many awkward daydreams and graphs in season 7. Decoy Buffy is recruited through these means and her life is forever changed. She feels the tug of humanity, and discovers the resources to believe in her abilities. In one of her first missions with a group of young slayers she is savagely bitten while trying to save a fellow mate. The mate lets her know the wound is a badge of honor as she has heard Buffy has a neck wound too. One particularly moving sequence involves a recruiter offering her the mission as decoy Buffy saying, “….I gotta figure you want the truth. As in ‘Why me? Did I get the hardest, darkest path to walk ‘cause I’m strong, I’m good, I can handle the heavier burden? Or am I weak, expendable, the one that won’t be missed. The truth? There is no truth. There’s just what you believe.” That passage cuts to the heart of the whole series

Yes, I am the resident Joss Whedon fanatic, and it would be difficult for me to point out any serious flaws in anything he has done thus far. I feel fortunate that I can say “The Chain” is his best work since Angel season 5’s disturbing episode, “A Hole in the World.” With that, I must point out this is not the strongest issue to enter the series as a new reader. The structure is non-linear and there is only brief mention made of our new world of 2,000 slayers and the decoy Buffies running around. The comics have proved innovative in allowing Joss to focus his microscope away from the core Scoobies. If you’re only a fan of the adventures of our merry band, this may be a difficult issue for you. The television series would never have had an installment like issue #5. Within its pages are rooms in the house of the Buffiverse we have never explored. Finally, guest artist Paul Lee does an impressive job over regular artist George Jeanty. The various underground faerie-tale creatures the decoy Buffy brings the gift of equality are fantastically realized, even the one that looks like a leaf-blower.

I am bowled over by this one, I must admit. It holds within its pages one of the best genre stories to explore the human condition in 16 pages. Up next, Brian K. Vaughan brings us Faith, the darkest slayer yet!

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