In all of the promotional material and commentary from the creative team that we got before this issue, the emphasis was on "awkward" and "immature". Who would expect anything else from Buffy's first meeting with Angel since she started sleeping with Spike again? They seemed to be using it as a draw, though: come check it out, all your favorite characters are going to be humiliated and/or act like children. Now, there are entire genres that thrive on this kind of humor (*coughBritcom*), so the relish with which they presented this scenario isn't a total mystery. But personally, I don't need it in my Buffyverse, and by the time I got around to reading the actual issue I was pretty convinced it was going to be a total waste of space.
It wasn't a total waste of space. But it does give me a good platform for explaining what exactly is so offensive about the way the notorious B/A/S love triangle has been handled in this season.
Imagine that Angel represents the B/A shippers. Imagine that Spike represents the Spuffy shippers. Imagine that Buffy represents her TV series and the comic continuation of it claimed by its creator to be canon.
Angel and Buffy had something epic together; you could say they were made for each other. Something terrible happened that drew them apart, but the love was still there. However, with Buffy single, there was an opening for another romantic relationship. Spike, who had previously given up on his chances of being with Buffy but still loved her, stepped in. By the time Angel shows up again, enough time has passed that the love they shared is in doubt. The significance of the terrible thing that happened to them is now unclear, and Spike and Angel's own relationship has a history of animosity that neither can quite get over.
So Spike gets the bad-blood ball rolling by being really, really insecure about his place with Buffy now that he's going to be set in comparison with Angel. This is portrayed as immaturity, with Buffy needing to take him aside and talk down to him like a child to assure him that she's his girlfriend. My question is, why shouldn't he be insecure? He's seen Buffy and Angel's relationship develop, almost from its beginnings. He's not missing any information. He's threatened. Buffy's saying a lot of words about being committed to him, but the fact is, she isn't showing it. I say he's got every right to be jealous, to lash out, and even to make a few demands.
Instead, he informs Dawn that "the Slayer ain't no one's," with the implication that this is what he loves about her. It's a complete non-sequitur; Dawn had only stated that Buffy is Spike's girlfriend, a word that carries no inherent meaning of ownership. Spike is essentially trying to erase the idea of Buffy being anyone's girlfriend rather than stepping up to be her boyfriend. If anything he's said is immature, it's this, but it passes without comment.
Then Angel gets his turn. He gets angry the instant he finds out about Buffy and Spike, he makes an unfounded accusation, he refuses to talk about it any further. This is also portrayed as immaturity, and my question is likewise parallel: why shouldn't he be angry? He accepted that he can't be with Buffy and he turned over all choices in the matter to her, up to and including the right to change her mind and tell him to leave. Up to that point, they're totally fine, which is maybe a hint that Angel isn't angry about her choosing Spike over him. He has a serious problem with her dating Spike in any context. That may be unfair of him, and fueled by irrational feelings of rivalry. OR. It could be a sincere concern over seeing someone he cares about making unhealthy life decisions.
Buffy's the only one who doesn't get tapped by the immaturity wand; she's neither jealous nor angry. I'm not going to rewrite the last few paragraphs substituting the ship names for Angel and Spike, but tell me if you see what I see: Buffy, the character, isn't going to put up with any juvenile behavior from her love interests. Buffy, the comic...isn't going to take any smack from Bangel and Spuffy.
So sure, I'm glad to know that my ship still has a chance. I appreciate seeing cracks in Buffy and Spike's current farce of a relationship. But I know when the fans are being insulted, and as much as I've taken it and will probably continue to take it, I don't have to like it. In the real world, awkwardness hurts. You do that to my avatar and call it funny, and you're laughing at me.
This kind of went to a weird place and I might not stand by all of it tomorrow. It's just the only way I could make sense of what was going on in this damn book.
Wonderful art, because Rebekah Isaacs is a doggone lifesaver. This time around I especially noticed the facial expressions, the fight scene poses, and the hallway background (it just looked very authentic, and was used well to show that the battle was taking place in a tight space without every panel looking the same). There were a couple of good lines, too. "Look what the bat dragged in!" and how about the phrase "interhell conflict".
Giles is wearing a t-shirt with a d20 on it. I can't decide if that's OOC but it is cute.
The lettercol came with one big surprise this time: Sierra Hahn just up and left, and it seems like hardly any time has passed since she started. I haven't noticed anyone else online caring about this, but I feel like we're being jostled around a bit. Who's next? Do they know the scene? Scott Allie made me care about who edits this book, and since he's the boss now, I hope he still cares, too.