Friday, September 30, 2011
I couldn't be moved to write anything about this issue.
Not that there is nothing to say. There's actually quite a bit. Buffy flirts or possibly flirts with everyone in the cast (more on this in a sec). She has moved to San Fransisco to work in a coffee shop. Her friends have moved with her. She gets drunk and acts stupid at a party.
She never mentions Giles is dead.
Very little seems to have changed for Buffy. The character suffered a terrible loss and had her world utterly demolished at the end of season 8 - the climax of a story I still simply can't understand and no you can't make me even though you continue to try - yet Buffy the character remains firmly stuck in neutral. The writing does too.
The story repeats things we've seen before - think 'Anne,' think 'Doublemeat Palace.' Buffy's life has gone to pot, and she takes up a real job in a different-ish environment while flexing considerable denial muscle. Inevitably she is drawn back in to the world that refuses to let her go. That clearly will happen again, even if that world is diminished.
What leaves me cold is despite the serious stakes - Buffy is now completely without any mentors, Willow is disturbingly blase after being divorced from magic and consequently her power, Xander is still Xander, except less and less all the time - the patterns remain the same. Buffy will get the big picture, which will involve Willow, both textually and other-textually, though the writers can't seem to decide if the subtext is becoming the text.
At the beginning of this issue, Buffy wakes up after a night of serious drinking, naked in her bed. Willow is mostly naked, in her bathroom. Buffy questions if they had sex. Willow teases her a little. They share a - friendly? - kiss. The Willow/Buffy dynamic has long been subtextual to the point of debate, but in Season 8, Buffy's experimentation sexually opened a door on the relationship that both probably thought didn't exist. The scene at the beginning of the comic doesn't advance this. It actually felt a little like Whedon was playing with the shippers, especially after he repeats similarly vague scenes with Buffy in regards to Xander and Spike.
To me, the real dynamic is in how these characters grow. Willow and Buffy in some ways are growing farther apart all the time, yet closer; they represent the heart now of the series, and different aspects of the feminine power that the series has always represented. Power that is inherited, and power that is obtained. Explorations of this power dynamic, and its impact on their relationship continue to be the draw for me. So far, Season 9 isn't very magnetic.
I hope it will change.