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Discussion of Buffy 12.03 - Released 8/22/18 (Dark Horse)

Mrs Gordo

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#1
The battle against future vampire and Slayer twin, Harth, and his legion of evil, has already begun in the present when Buffy, Fray, and the Scoobies return from the future ready to fight. The Reckoning is now, and if the future can be changed, it will take everything that Buffy has to save the Slayers and our world!

Source: Dark Horse
 

Grace

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#3
This issue was decent. Some nice character moments, and an interesting setup for #4. I really like that Joss & co. are revisiting the source of the slayer power, since that's been a sticking point for a lot of people when looking at the series from a feminist perspective. I'm interested in seeing how it wraps up!
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#4
I really like that Joss & co. are revisiting the source of the slayer power, since that's been a sticking point for a lot of people when looking at the series from a feminist perspective.
I think that if the slayer power was came from this divine source and was bestowed on Buffy by some benevolent matriarchal organisation, it would all have felt very cheap. The slayers were supposed to be the tools of the Watcher's Council, but Buffy splits from them and redefines the slayer identity into something proud, empowered and responsible. That is why Buffy can't be reduced to her super powers. Even in Helpless, when her patriarchal overlords turned on her, she still kicked ass.
 

Grace

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#5
I think that if the slayer power was came from this divine source and was bestowed on Buffy by some benevolent matriarchal organisation, it would all have felt very cheap.
As with most things, a different source for the slayer power could feel as cheap or as not cheap as they made it. But to think that the only way for the slayer power to feel not cheap is for it to come from metaphorical rape is pretty icky. To me, the Chosen metaphor works best if I imagine Buffy unlocking power within the potential slayers that was denied them by an unfair system that wanted to control the one girl in the world. But the way the comics have gone, with Buffy being able to play god with the other slayers' powers, turning them off and on as she chooses, has been a major turnoff, and I would be happy for the paradigm to be changed completely.

The slayers were supposed to be the tools of the Watcher's Council, but Buffy splits from them and redefines the slayer identity into something proud, empowered and responsible. That is why Buffy can't be reduced to her super powers. Even in Helpless, when her patriarchal overlords turned on her, she still kicked ass.
Yes, she kicked ass. But she still wanted her powers back, and we saw the same thing with her agonizing about it in Season 11. Now a man has taken them away from her again. I would like for the final chapter to give us a rebirth of the slayer power in a way that no one -- not even Buffy herself -- can give or take because she chooses to.
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#6
But to think that the only way for the slayer power to feel not cheap is for it to come from metaphorical rape is not really a winning argument for me.
I didn't say that it had to be a result of rape. The metaphorical rape scene only happens a few episodes before the finish line, but there was something very sinister about the slayer prophecy from the first time we heard it. Also, often an allegory becomes so far removed from the thing it supposedly signifies that it really fails to illuminate it in any way. The Shadowmen seek to violate Buffy, but calling it rape feels moot. I now systematic pederasty existed in some armies, but it is still quite a stretch.
But the way the comics have gone, with Buffy being able to play god with the other slayers' powers, turning them off and on as she chooses, has been a major turnoff, and I would be happy for the paradigm to be changed completely.
I think that is because BtVS is about Buffy's very individual struggle. Chosen should have created a shift in the show's focus from Buffy's individual struggle to the slayers' collective struggle. I guess that is what often happens when a story continues past its natural ending.
Yes, she kicked ass. But she still wanted her powers back, and we saw the same thing with her agonizing about it in Season 11. Now a man has taken them away from her again. I would like for the final chapter to give us a rebirth of the slayer power in a way that no one -- not even Buffy herself -- can give or take because she chooses to.
But I like that she is ambivalent towards her powers. Her super power is literally being able to beat up mostly anyone, which puts her on the level with the creatures she fights. Buffy's journey isn't about her physical prowess, because she is strong from the start. Her journey is about distinguishing herself not only from her enemies, but also from many of her allies, such as The Watcher's Council and The Initiative.

Hopefully, Issue #4 will offer a very clever punchline about how the stolen power makes Harth vainglorious and easily defeated by Buffy with her earned grit and loyal friends.
 

Grace

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#7
I didn't say that it had to be a result of rape.
I didn't mean to imply that you specifically were arguing that. I actually edited my post within a few minutes but you caught me too soon.

Also, often an allegory becomes so far removed from the thing it supposedly signifies that it really fails to illuminate it in any way. The Shadowmen seek to violate Buffy, but calling it rape feels moot.
I really don't see how it can be moot when that's the metaphor they went with. But anyway, men violated the First Slayer, Buffy found a way to change that violation into something better, now she's been violated again with the power that she made hers being stripped from her. Unless she finds a way to get it back, it's not exactly inspiring to me. I want my kick-ass female superheroes, not a "women don't actually need power" ending. I'd much prefer a "women working together can find their own source of power" ending.

But I like that she is ambivalent towards her powers.
But she's not. She's ambivalent about the effects of her powers on her life, but she doesn't want to go back to being powerless, at least by Season 3. The only thing I could see changing that is if the forces of darkness are completely defeated and there's no need for slayers at all. (But that would be cheesy. :p)

Chosen should have created a shift in the show's focus from Buffy's individual struggle to the slayers' collective struggle. I guess that is what often happens when a story continues past its natural ending.
Yes. But we are where we are, and I'm still reading these things for some reason.
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#8
I really don't see how it can be moot when that's the metaphor they went with. But anyway, men violated the First Slayer, Buffy found a way to change that violation into something better, now she's been violated again with the power that she made hers being stripped from her. Unless she finds a way to get it back, it's not exactly inspiring to me. I want my kick-ass female superheroes, not a "women don't actually need power" ending. I'd much prefer a "women working together can find their own source of power" ending.
But does this power they find have to be literal power? Couldn't it be love or friendship or perseverance or intelligence or whatever (Call me an old sap. I won't care). If the slayer power and destiny was completely unproblematic and was all Buffy and her friends would need to win and it was a gift she was given without having to earn it, then that would feel very cheap and the message would be that women can only win in a fantasy universe where they have super powers they wouldn't otherwise have.

And Buffy is all about violation. She is violated so many times and in so many ways, but by the end of the episode she bites her lip, hugs her friends, kicks someone in the balls and fires a bazooka. That is really the core of how the show works for me.
But she's not. She's ambivalent about the effects of her powers on her life, but she doesn't want to go back to being powerless, at least by Season 3.
Even if she never considers giving up her slayer duty for long, we see her be enticed by the idea time and time again. I think that counts as ambivalence. In order to be a successful physical hero, she has to embrace that aspect of herself to a degree, but that is just a small small part of who she is.
Yes. But we are where we are, and I'm still reading these things for some reason.
I seriously don't know what is wrong with us.
 

Grace

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#9
But does this power they find have to be literal power?
Yes. For me, yes, absolutely. Buffy is the female superhero I need. If she ends powerless, I will be intensely disappointed.

If the slayer power and destiny was completely unproblematic and was all Buffy and her friends would need to win and it was a gift she was given without having to earn it
After 12 seasons, there is nothing that Buffy has not earned. She and the others working together to find a source of power would not have to be the same as a fairy descending from the sky and saying "Poof!" And, anyway, there's no such thing as unproblematic power. All power, no matter the source, comes with problems. It would just be different problems if Buffy's story ever continued.

the message would be that women can only win in a fantasy universe where they have super powers they wouldn't otherwise have.
It IS a fantasy universe, so Buffy has to win in one. Every victory Buffy has ever had has taken place in a fantasy universe where women have superpowers they wouldn't otherwise have, so I don't understand this argument. If they find a new source of power, it doesn't have to be cheap or easy, but it can still be theirs. Buffy doesn't have to end the series powerless for me to be able to relate to the ending.

And Buffy is all about violation. She is violated so many times and in so many ways, but by the end of the episode she bites her lip, hugs her friends, kicks someone in the balls and fires a bazooka.
Yes, in other words, she always gets her power back. And heretofore, it has always been literal power. I do not want that to change.
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#10
I see the super power as a trope of the the fantasy genres that sometimes helps and sometimes hinders the show in telling this story, though the problems the super powers cause isn't really to the show's detriment, because the show only grows as it struggles with the paradox of telling a story that is mostly anti-violence with a leading lady whose super power is her capacity to endure and inflict violence. (Man, that sentence never stopped, did it?)
Yes, in other words, she always gets her power back. And heretofore, it has always been literal power. I do not want that to change.
But she only once looses her super powers on the show. What takes her power away is internal problems, such as doubt and lack of confidence. For example, when Angel becomes evil, Buffy has to deal with the trauma of losing her lover, as well as the people Angel kills, and then figure out a series of moral dilemmas, such as whether Angel deserves to die or if killing him to spare his victims is just. Buffy's super powers would have let her kill Angel right away, but she wasn't ready to do that yet. It is in these tensions the greatness of the show lies. The Watcher Council seeks to groom Buffy into an uncomplicated vampire-murdering machine with no ties to the world whom they can easily discard once she exceeds her usefulness. Buffy's super powers allow her to do nifty flips and kicks and stuff, but that is just the window dressing.

I would actually welcome the franchise ending with Buffy, Willow and Xander reaching a point where their lives stop being about violence and they can focus on raising kids, running female empowerment centres and having jobs that are about creating something worthwhile, rather than simply fighting evil, which really is a distraction from what life should really be about. BtVS is about the trauma of growing up. If the demons never go away, then that means the trauma never heals, which is kinda depressing.
 

Grace

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#11
If the demons never go away, then that means the trauma never heals, which is kinda depressing.
I see it differently. We all have demons all throughout our lives that we must face and then conquer or learn to live with. I don't see demons = trauma, but demons = challenges that we must overcome or figure out how to tame. The demons don't stop until life does.
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#12
I see it differently. We all have demons all throughout our lives that we must face and then conquer or learn to live with. I don't see demons = trauma, but demons = challenges that we must overcome or figure out how to tame. The demons don't stop until life does.
I guess that's true, but before I read the comics, I could always imagine the Scoobies going on to living happier lives. You know, Willow asking, "What do we do now, Buffy?" and Buffy just smiling in response. Blank slate and new beginning.

Also, the demons seem to signify less and less and have been reduced to literal monsters that needs to be unproblematically killed with super powers and guns. There is little in the form of drama or stakes. For the first time, I am exactly Buffy's age (yay!) but I don't really get what I am supposed to learn from all this.
 
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Grace
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Yes, I much prefer the Chosen ending to the comics. Burn them with fire! LOL
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#13
I actually enjoyed this issue a lot. There were so many great moments and the art was better than in the last 2 issues.

It felt like the stakes were high and nobody is safe which is kind of perfect for a penultimate issue. I'm excited for what's coming next!

Faith had some great moments even if I'm not a fan of the way she's drawn. I wonder if maybe she won't play a key role in the next issue.

I have a feeling Illyria/Fred will get killed off. Fred saying she made peace with dying felt like something they had to do if they were going to kill off Illyria.

Buffy feeling so emotional and full of love warmed my heart. I will never get tired of seeing how being a slayer didn't turn her cold.

I do wish we had gotten a Buffy/Angel moment but I'm not as bothered by it as not getting a Buffy/Dawn goodbye. That 's not okay!!! But the Buffy/Giles moment was lovely.
 

Mrs Gordo

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#14
#3 Review *With Spoilers*

Gosh I've been meaning to get to this all day, sucks when RL gets in the way of fandom amiright?

Yes. But we are where we are, and I'm still reading these things for some reason.
I seriously don't know what is wrong with us.
I just want to fist bump this real quick before I get into this. :)

Let me start by saying that this issue was fine. There were things I enjoyed in it, but there were probably more things that annoyed me about it than the previous two issues. I think that my problem with the comics is always going to be that I am so attached to the TV show, I have never really embraced the medium of the comics and so I'm always left wanting. I think this issue is one that would've done spectacularly well as an episode of TV. With slightly more accomplished writing and of course our favorite actors conveying the gravity of their dialogue it would've been a much more powerful story. That being said, I do best when I try and think of the TV Show and the comics as "different things" and it strikes me that Joss seems to think of them as distinct as well (from his interview here):

Similar to the show, we’re not going to close it all off in the sense of “Everybody’s dead!” Though we did think about doing that. [Laughter] But when I sat with Chris Gage, it was with the intent that after everything we’ve been through we wanted to have something to say that mirrors and rounds off where we started this comic [run].
...
So we dealt with a lot of things in small panels, and I don’t know if I fit it all in, but it was very important to try. We made sure that the journey wasn’t continuing. We wanted to give the Dark Horse era some closure.
In any case, I'll talk about what worked for me and what didn't:

What worked:
Harth Twist:
This was the best thing about the issue, I did not see it coming. And for some of the same reasons @Grace talks about above, I really like them visiting head on this notion that the slayer power was rooted in a "violation" (word used in the btvs script!) of a woman. I totally get where you are coming from @WillowFromBuffy because yes, the premise was how Buffy took on that power to turn it back around on the patriarchal structure that sought to control the slayers. But this story still has to make a point, it still has to go somewhere and if that somewhere is going to address on of the sticking points of s7 which is the source of the slayer power itself, I could be interested in the final statement they make. Although basically I'd be happier with a Chosen (well NFA ...) ending.

So the coolest part of this issue for me is this line by Harth. What this season seems to have that others didn't is it has a very specific and cohesive point it wants to make. It's about woman and power. Obviously. What Buffy's legacy will mean to that cause.



Faith and Willow: Ok paging @thetopher who was basically the one who had me start to think this is a ship I could ship. Honestly, I thought Willow and Faith had GREAT moments. I really enjoyed the moment that these two shared and they do have some things in common, regrettable pasts, etc. If this was a, let's say, 12 issue run perhaps we would have some time to explore this:

with Angel. As he too was shown an image of the future, shown a future in which he will may go evil again, and it makes him question whether it's even worth staying and fighting and he ultimately decides he will. But Faith is basically telling Willow something to the effect of, well let's go change this destiny, let's change your future. I also enjoyed their moment in the field with one exception that I will address below. I love that Faith tells Willow that she'll take Buffy's spot that she is ready to sacrifice herself for the greater good. Faith got some great stuff in this issue. I really enjoyed her. I have enjoyed Faith alot in the comics.

Spike and Buffy: Yeah, I liked this. I mean listen, I don't like spuffy, it's just Not For Me™ but they were in a relationship for over a year (comic timeline wonkiness but half of 10 and all of 11 - which is only 12 issues so?), and Spike has been fighting along side Buffy consistently for a while. Buffy loved him. I don't like it but that's the story. And it would've been stupid not to address all of this head on and they do. In fact, I would've found it more frustrating if it had not been resolved. It seems from this talk that it was more Buffy's decision than Spike's. I like that. It's a change for Buffy too! Buffy made a choice to end their relationship and Spike respected that choice. And I love what Spike says here - about going from one woman to another, because - honestly - YES. He went from Ceciliy to Dru to obsessed with Buffy (first trying to kill her and then 'loving' her) but Spike needs to be on his own. He needs to stop being love's bitch. And I think he is well on his way so good for him. There is an air of finality in this exchange and the entire page feels like the closing of a chapter in a very respectful way.

Not all love is eternal. (What? Come on I'm still a B/A shipper remember??) :p

Mel/Erin/Harth: We didn't get too much but I liked what we got. I liked the acknowledgement that he isn't their brother anymore. I like that Mel still tries to get through to him but Harth is evil and it still hurts her and she feels guilt over what happened to him. I wish we had more time for more this dynamic.

What didn't:

Andrew: Here is another way in which my fandom preference being rooted in the TV show hurts me, Andrew has had tons of time in the comics but I'll be honest when his stuff comes up I sometimes skim it. He is funny and quirky and whatever but I kinda don't care. So given the limited amount of page space we have and the limited amount of time for our characters to be able to talk to each other and share special moments in the penultimate issue of what could be THE END FOREVER, am I bitter that Andrew took up a little over 3 fudging pages of comic space?? Hell yeah I am. I mean dear God they got more page time than spuffy did in this issue. Buffy doesn't get a goodbye moment with Willow, Xander, Angel, Dawn oh but Andrew and her bond for 15% of the issue cool. So I'm bitter Andrew got so much screen time and he was one of only two people Buffy had time with before the battle.

Along those same lines, Angel and Dawn don't get goodbyes from Buffy? I'll just let Ross vent my frustrations for me.

I'm very annoyed by this. Also annoyed that Angel and Faith haven't had a moment together. Come on, Angel and Faith are best friends!! And Angel and Buffy are the lead protagonists of the franchise (and obviously the loves of each others lives ;)) they don't get a goodbye moment? Boo.

Fred and Angel: Ya'll I really wanted to like this scene. I was dreading the potential of Fred being involved in a thruply relationship with Angel and legitimizing the Illangel thing and so at least that didn't happen. But instead, after a YEAR Angel still doesn't understand how the body sharing arrangement works? After a year, FRED doesn't understand how the body arrangement works??? But she's ok with Angel having sex with Illangel when she's like... idk trapped inside? But they aren't together? And Angel still feels guilty over this? It's all so weird and absurd and I guess the whole point of this is Fred's ok with the Illangel sex guys. But she already said that in 11, I guess because people are still upset she had to say it again. lol.

Hey look, in addition to Angel now having a reflection in rear view mirrow he can now stand outside and look at the sunset:

(I give them points for the pretty imagery though).

I felt sad when Fred said that she had so much more to lose the first time she died. My sad Fresley heart.

Angel sends Connor a flipping goodbye email? (Everyone here sucks at goodbyes ok?) I get that there are too many people in the book already but it pisses me off that Connor and Gunn aren't just here. Just have them come and say hey and join the fight. Doesn't have to be a big thing! I mean everyone remembers Connor is super powered right?

At least Angel and Illyria didn't even talk to each other in this issue. lol.

Faith on the battlefield: So you give Faith this wonderful moment of self-sacrifice, a heartwarming speech and then Willow's like "to bad it's not your scythe." Ummm - why? Listen I know Buffy is the protagonist, she is the hero and my favorite and I love her to the end of time but Faith is a slayer just like Buffy. Why is the scythe Buffy's and not Faith's? Am I missing some canon on this? In s7 she says, it feels like it's mine so it must be yours. But that always seemed a symbolic gesture of indicating that Buffy was the slayer in charge. Why do they keep treating Faith like she is just another newly activated slayer? Taking her powers away like she was part of the spell Willow did? It's so bizarre. And then she has this super sad line about how she should leave the grand plans to other folks. Like WTH? Why give Faith this really great moment and then end on such a downer for her? Boooooo.

Buffy to Spike and Angel "I love you guys." Ugh...


Crazy crackpot theory time: I have no basis of fact for this but what if Illyria is somehow the way that the Slayers get their powers back. She was involved in creating the seed of wonder along with Willow. Illyria is now been framed as a goddess, she is referred to in feminine pronouns, etc. The Slayer power was demonic in nature originally but it was put to good use. Illyria is a God-king/Old One. The demon in this issue tells Illyria "I can see you fear what you are becoming." Fred talks about not fearing death which felt a little ominous to me. What if she is the one who re-establishes the slayer line? I wouldn't be a big fan of this honestly, but anyway I thought I'd throw it out there.

In the next issue can Buffy and the gang change clothes????? Thanks.
 
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MrsEssmich
MrsEssmich
omg haha I was laughing so hard about your Ross picture :D :D I totally imagine his voice and pitch.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that we get a proper Buffy/Dawn and BA moment instead of a goodbye page.
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#16
Spike and Buffy: Yeah, I liked this. I mean listen, I don't like spuffy, it's just Not For Me™ but they were in a relationship for over a year (comic timeline wonkiness but half of 10 and all of 11 - which is only 12 issues so?), and Spike has been fighting along side Buffy consistently for a while. Buffy loved him. I don't like it but that's the story. And it would've been stupid not to address all of this head on and they do. In fact, I would've found it more frustrating if it had not been resolved. It seems from this talk that it was more Buffy's decision than Spike's. I like that. It's a change for Buffy too! Buffy made a choice to end their relationship and Spike respected that choice. And I love what Spike says here - about going from one woman to another, because - honestly - YES. He went from Ceciliy to Dru to obsessed with Buffy (first trying to kill her and then 'loving' her) but Spike needs to be on his own. He needs to stop being love's bitch. And I think he is well on his way so good for him. There is an air of finality in this exchange and the entire page feels like the closing of a chapter in a very respectful way.
I didn't mention it in my post but I enjoyed the scene as well. Obviously, I don't ship it but I thought it was handled well and I'm particularly pleased that Spike added "Buffy" after "Slayer". If there's one thing that bugs me about Spuffy in the comics is that he always calls her "Slayer" instead of Buffy. So I feel like it's finally addressed in some way.
 

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#19
The issue was a seriously mixed bad; It had some GREAT stuff but also some meh stuff.

What I liked:

FAITH:
This was her issue mostly, and she certainly got the best 'solo' moments; I really liked her little talk with Willow about fate and regret and going dark. A few more issues with these two, interacting like this, and I would ship the hell out of them without question. I could imagine Eliza and Alyson saying these words.

I also liked Faith's idea on the battlefield ('called it!' I totally predicted that this might be a thing...) but I'm baffled as to why it was rejected.
Faith is a natural slayer, just like Buffy. The scythe belongs to her as well, ever since 'Chosen' when she kicked ass in the Hellmouth. I hate that it was rejected out of hand and Faith was reminded- yet again- that she is nothing more than a stand-in for Buffy. It was a big logic-fail for me and made me want to hug Faith.

On the plus side Faith's confrontation with the Mayor was better this time. No 'you made me a monster', just 'you're being played, dumbass' and 'I'm gonna send you to hell in pieces'. Nice.
Like I said I loved her in this, she's grown so much in the comics. She is pretty much the only reason that I still read them at this point.

Buffy: Buffy gets some inspirational stuff, enough to remind us all about why she's such a great character and why her' name's on the cover. Plus some close-up shots of her were really great and captured her likeness/'essence'. She's really improved since S9/10.

Buffy/Spike: This was a sweet scene with some nice character moments of realization for Spike, and also had that 'end of a relationship' feel about it. Hopefuly this puts a definite end to Spuffy.

Fray/Erin/Harth: I enjoyed their interactions. And the Harth twist was a genuine surprise that's- thematically at least- very interesting

The battle: They had to cram the epic battle into 1 issue and they did a pretty good job considering.

Didn't like:

Some of the dialogue had that clunky feel to it, like Gage's stuff in S10. Bits made me wince.

Andrew: Took up too much time for a character who was basically a facilitator; a provider of comms and exposition to m ove the story forward. Overall I dislike his presence in the comics intensely, and he took up too much space in a very sparse season.

Angel/Fred: This is the scene that the writers had to sell me on the body-sharing romance thing and they blew it, because the whole thing is still vague and unclear. Neither character 'knows how it works' after a year or so? They expect us to buy these two/three together? Nope, still lazy and unconvincing. And it skeeves me out man.

No Buffy/Dawn, Buffy/Angel, 'Angel/Faith goodbyes: Boo. But hopefully there will be time enough in the last issue for some kind of closure with all these.

The ship name is Angllyria, because that sounds like a type of skin disease. 'Ugh, he's got Angllyria all over his foot! It's all crusty and blue with a horrible stench...'
Sums up this ship nicely. :)

I'm with @Mrs Gordo in her prediction that Illyria will be pivotal in fixing the slayer essence-stealing badness, and also that she's likely to be a casualty in the process.
 
Mrs Gordo
Mrs Gordo
Angllyria lol.

WillowFromBuffy

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#20
Why give Faith this really great moment and then end on such a downer for her?
I think this was a nice moment. Faith is the underdog and underdogs needs to take it on the chin from time to time to keep that underdog-shine shining.
I have no basis of fact for this but what if Illyria is somehow the way that the Slayers get their powers back.
That could be a solution, I guess, but would Illyria really be a purer source of power? Illyria is basically Sineya, a woman who was almost completely destroyed through demonic violation. Illyria is a lot like chipped Spike in that she joins the white hats out of convenience and is driven by a penchant for violence rather than any virtue.

If we're gonna have a new source of the slayer power in the last issue, then let Cordelia provide it. Let her break free of the other Powers that Be like Lucifer and come down to reinvigorate the slayers.
 
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