As I once said on Twitter: going to the Comic Exchange is a lot like dumping all your ex's stuff at her house, only to leave the same house with your new flame. Except you don’t have to make yourself look gorgeous to make your ex jealous. (Not that I’ve ever done that. And if I HAD, you can rest assured that he also made the same effort to look good for me.)
This was true even yesterday, when the no-good ex was House of M, I tried, I really did, but even with a couple years Marvel knowledge-by-osmosis I now understand no more of these titles than I when I first bought them. The current flame - two of them, in fact - being Darwyn Cooke’s excellent DC: New Frontier, which I could browse happily just for the scrumptious art. I was also lucky enough to be able to pick up the first Buffy: Season Eight trade.
I actually have written 2500 words in a still incomplete post explaining my thoughts on this season, but most of it is rambly, pointless recapping of the story so far and not actual analysis. Basically, I like Buffy because it fills two of my big loves:
- 1. small stories in big worlds (yes, most of Season eight has been Big Stories, but do look at stand alone issues like The Chain and the two not-quite romance storylines belonging to Dawn and to Satsu)
- 2. Fantasy that’s about our world, not just for the sake of fantasy.
always ALWAYS been the second one; from the moment Joyce observed that all teenagers have things they don’t think their parents would understand, through the first boy Buffy slept with turning evil, to Buffy discovering that even throwing yourself on the sacrificial alter has consequences you have to face up to after. It’s not exactly been subtle with its metaphor. And personally, I’ve always enjoyed Buffy
better for that metaphor.
What’s made me love Buffy
Season 8, for all its fault, has been that underlying current of what the season’s really about.
The bad guys in the season come in three camps:
- Twilight and his Initiative like anti-magic organisation are the Big Bad. They want to destroy the Slayer organisation and Buffy in particular. Twilight’s identity has yet to be revealed, but his cohorts include Buffy’s figurehead misogynist rapist, the ex-boyfriend who destroyed their relationship because he couldn’t handle her power, and Amy, who spent the best part of her adolescence and early adulthood being kept prisoner by two powerful witches - her Mom and then Willow, who was supposedly looking for a way to fix her, but kept getting distracted.
As for who Twilight is, I’d love it if he turned out to be Caleb, whom I am suggesting because he’s the most likely candidate for wanted to rid the world of powerful women. I’ve also heard speculation that it’s Pike, which I only like because of what I’m choosing not to write about here regarding the recurring theme ex-boyfriends are having here. I did notice Twilight reacting to the word ‘spike’ in interesting ways, but I’m not convinced he’s either of those ex-boyfriends.
- The vampires, represented by Harmony, who is cute and pretty and popular (and a celebrity) and just wants to be loved. It was Harmony’s appearance (and the vamp kitties that followed it) that secured this idea in my head: Harmony is Sarah Palin; she’s Megan Fox and she’s every woman who writes for Femail at the Daily Mail: she’s a woman with power, who’s ‘allowed’ to have that power because she’s pretty and plays by the Man’s rules, and because she’s not one of those nasty Slayers or witches. She’s the Right Kind of women that the Wrong Kind of Women want to destroy with their wicked world destroying ways. She’s that Real Victim of Feminism we keep hearing about.
Rogue Slayers such as Simone Doffler and Lady Genevieve, who are there to personify what Twilight and the vampires are talking about: Slayers (women with power) are bad and dangerous and a threat to the world.
So there’s this big narrative about how women with power are bad, and they’d all be much happier if they gave up that power like good little girls - the most recent Retreat story had Willow giving up her powers because - I kid you not - she wanted to have babies.
As a reminder, this magic that’s stopping Willow from having babies? The 'what she is', she's talking about? Is this:
[YouTube Link. Expect me to add a gif if this gets taken down.]
Yeeeah, see, Espenson, you can't just retcon a long standing metaphor with one throwaway lines about sperm donors. There’s a whole gay commentary I could get into here, with Satsu and the homophobic vampkitties, to the recurrent ex-boyfriends to the major threat to Buffy being a heterosexual couple, but not today. today, I'm leaving it at that: To me, Season 8 is about the mainstream backlash about feminism, and I’m loving it.
Of course, yesterday was also Thursday, which in places that aren’t America, is New Comics Day, and my stash was excellent this week.
Secret Six has come to the end of its Depths storyline, which involved pushing all of the amazing characters to the very edge of their character - with the possible exception of Catman and Ragdoll, who just weren’t the focus of the story which tried to rip apart the relationships between Floyd and Jeannette, and Scandal and Bane, sending the Six to an island which almost destroyed most of them. It was a wrap-up issue for the story, and it didn’t disappoint. Lots of violence, lots of blood, lots of great character moments. Gail Simone is an outstanding writer, but I’m also looking forward to Ostrander’s return to Deadshot next month.
House of Mystery Annual #1 is exactly why I buy this title: a framing story set in the House within which sit a handful of short stories set within the whole Vertigo universe. Fun in a macabre way, and really enjoyable.
But Batgirl, oh, Batgirl. There’s nothing quite like an origin/self discovery story that involves the hero hallucinating under the influence of scarecrow venom and fighting their Own Worst Enemy™ - yes, this is herself. I wouldn’t be reading a Batman title for anything else.
It’s glorious, is this; “Spoiler” beating Batgirl to a pulp, saying ‘you deserve this!’ then Stephanie realising - with a flashback to her mother - that yes, because she chose this. Because she is “who I choose to be”. so she turns it around and lays it onto the Scarecrow, at the same time explaining what the hell she’s doing in Gotham. And… well, have some scans:
She might just be, at that.
This title had better stay this good. Holy crap.