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Date Posted: 03:23:51 01/06/08 Sun
Author: KdS
Subject: Buffy S8 #10: Anywhere But Here

Another Whedon one-shot before a further multi-part story seemingly begins. This one looks like the equivalent of The Initiative, No Place Like Home, or Conversations With Dead People, where the season arc is initially presented.

Buffy and Willow visit a four-dimensionally conscious demon in the hope of getting information about their current situation, and are revealed rather more about one another than they hoped. Meanwhile, Dawn finally opens up to Xander about the events that caused her to become gigantic, although possibly not completely.

Biggest shock of the issue has to be the revelation that the mysterious source of finance for the new Slayer organisation hinted at in the previous issue is actually... bank robbery? I'm not entirely convinced by this, given that it seems so utterly beyond what I would have previously seen as Buffy's moral code, although the first arc suggested a bit more ruthlessness than usual in her treatment of the human soldiers while rescuing Willow. It certainly has to be a very bad sign, given that a smaller-scale act of theft was so coded as our first warning that Faith was seriously Not Right. Buffy and Willow seem to assume that this act was what caused the government group to turn against them, although they don't as yet know about the Twilight connection and the robbery may not even have been connected to them.

In other seeming warning signs, Willow shagged a not-unattractive female naga for, seemingly, magical knowledge. How badly this will turn out, beyond the issue of infidelity, is clearly dependent on what the knowledge was and just what the deal was.

In more character-based revelation, Willow's shyness about her relationship with Kennedy turns out to to be due to discomfort with lesbianism, as Buffy suggested, or Kennedy's prickliness, but because Willow blames her relationship with Buffy for Tara's death. It isn't clear whether it's just the general chain of events she's talking about or whether now the homophobia controversy has died down Whedon intends to revisit the hints in S6 that the killing was some kind of mystical price for Buffy's resurrection. There's also the "any more than I have" line, which I take as Willow still feeling guilt for pulling Buffy from a heavenly afterlife.

In the other big revelation, it turns out that Dawn didn't have sex with Kenny, but his Bad Boy room-mate. Xander assumes that Kenny cursed her as revenge for this betrayal, but it appears that there may be some other, ever more discreditable, complication. The return to the Xander-Dawn friendship is nice, and I like the way that it seems to have been Xander who thought of making her a bit more comfortable by enlarging her other clothes and possessions. There may, however, be ructions if Buffy finds out that Xander dropped the hints about Parker.

And the big betrayal raises the possibility that Xander might, as previously, speculated, be the Twilight's and/or the US Army's mole in the Slayer organisation, although that seems a bit too obvious.

Smaller revelations: after the earlier dream vision with Rayne it now seems fairly obvious that, at least in Whedon's personal canon, Buffy has an MMF threeway fantasy kink. Also, in terms of sexual innuendo, this is the second comic by Whedon within a few months to make clear his appreciation of the snowbound-must-keep-warm erotic fic cliche...

I appreciate the further discovery that there are other mystical Chosen Ones than Slayers. The characterisation of Robin the "Minder" (which brings up unquenchable images of George Cole to me, I'm afraid) as someone who, like a milder form of Dru, finds her peculiar sense of time interfering with her ability to communicate with others, squicks me a little.

This is also the issue which features an inserted character inspired by the winning contribution to a "Why Buffy Matters To Me" competition on Whedon's MySpace page. It comes off a little disturbing to me though, because of the nature of the person and character. The winning essay was by a male fan writing in for his currently mentally-disturbed wife, about how Whedon's less sane characters helped her to deal with her condition. What squicks me about the choice of contribution, and the decision to give the character slight sanity issues, is the strong sense I get from much of Whedon's work that he eroticises female insanity in a not-entirely-healthy way, and that as a result the reasons for the choice don't come across as very positive or respectful.

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