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Date Posted: 04:15:44 09/08/07 Sat
Author: KdS
Subject: Hello, hooray, I'd rather the plague... (Buffy S8 #6 spoilers)

I found this one very thought-provoking and likeable, despite the fact that it seems to be doing exactly the thing I hoped it wouldn't in terms of plot.

The irritating thing is that I can see why the artistic decision was made for this plot. Once you have the idea of Faith sent to kill a rogue Slayer, it's unlikely that the woman in question will be an alienated outgroup type because she'd be too similar to Faith, as well as potentially attracting the same accusations of classism and sexual puritanism that the original BtVS3 Faith arc aroused. So it seems a logical idea to make the new rogue someone who reacted badly to superpowers as a result of existing arrogance and privilege. But the general attempts of US superhero comic writers to portray the British upper classes have been hideously bad, and it plays into dumb US pop culture stereotypes of English society (Scotland, Wales and Ireland have their own stereotypes) as consisting exclusively of decadent aristocrats who haven't changed since the eighteenth century and salt-of-the-Earth Cockneys. I really had been hoping for something more in a Hellblazer stylee. So far, Lady Genevieve Savidge is pretty par for the course (and "His Grace the Duke" is tautological).

Faith's still enough of Buffy's shadow not to have got very much out of the new situation after the euphoria wore off - she's stuck on her own in Cleveland with an ex-boyfriend and a former boss who still see her as the person to do the shittily ugly jobs too nasty for the nice people, wearing the black leather trousers of moral ambiguity. There's no explanation of what happened to her and Wood - I will, until contradicted, adopt my existing fanon that Angel's moral decline and death hit her hard and Wood's old issues about women caring more about vampires than him erupted - but there's an interesting line about what may have alienated her from everyone else. Faith's line to Giles about "the same Watchers Council that tried to ice me" may be Vaughan not being entirely clear about canon but may be an implication that she perceives, like certain fan critics, that the new situation is still too much of an authoritarian, remote set-up like the old Council.

Giles is interesting here. He finally seems on the point of making the kind of connection with Faith that he could have and disastrously couldn't be bothered to in BtVS3, and this may be a rehabilitation of the character after the mess of much of BtVS7. On the other hand, I strongly suspect that he's playing some kind of need-to-know game with Faith - his explanation of why Faith has to infiltrate and kill Genevieve is very weak and I have some worry about his concept of "early retirement". I've interpreted his killing of Ben in The Gift as partly motivated by the idea that if a human gets corrupted it can be dealt with, but a Slayer should not be allowed to kill a human in cold blood because she's too dangerous if it becomes a habit, so it may be that if the intent isn't to rehabilitate him he may be intending to kill Faith after she's dealt with the immediate threat.

I also wonder very much about what is actually going on with Genevieve. She's arrogant enough to kill the lower classes without great reaction, but she may have been suckered by the mysterious Roden into believing that she's on the side of light. Roden is definitely associated with Twilight who don't seem the apocalyptic type, so I wonder if the deliberate intent is to sow scandal and moral division in the new Slayer Org by setting up Giles and Faith to be exposed as doing a pointless wetjob. Oh, and the monster Buffy dreams of may be a chimera or a manticore, but it looks more like a griffin which has specific British resonance.

Liked the UK cultural references, although they're all ones Americans would get - the "great bearded wizard of Northampton", "The Queen Is Dead", Ten and Rose in the street outside Giles's flat. (Although that causes a problem given that Doctor Who has been established as existing as a fictional series in the Buffy universe.) I also liked the parallel in the art between the mock-Egyptian art deco statue Faith is standing on at the beginning and the Egyptian bust in Giles's flat.

The letters column contains an explanation and acknowledgement of the big canon inconsistency everyone saw in "The Long Way Home", why the First Evil was able to manifest as Warren in S7 if he never actually died - Warren was clinically dead briefly but Amy resuscitated him. (Joss: "I forgot, Okay?!") Other announcements - the third multi-part arc following Vaughan's will be written by Drew Goddard and, in response to reader's queries, Tara will almost certainly not be resurrected but will not be forgotten, both Jane Espenson and Drew Z Greenberg are expected to write in the future, and a second Fray story is planned for some point.

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