Sunday, February 19, 2012

Into Every Generation

I had commented a while back about my concerns in general with the direction the Buffy comics have taken since about the last third of Season 8.  The characters seemed a bit aimless, and the overall story left a lot of people dazed and confused.  Out of that confusion has come a very sober wake up call in the form of Buffy's unexpected pregnancy.  It could be the aimlessness was intentional, though I maintain it didn't really work (the writing is good but not great this season) and it revisited episodes Buffy has already gone through.   The character simply needs to grow and now, certainly, she must.

Typically Buffy has always presented common teenage/young adult fears via mystical/magical guises.  The pregnancy does not seem right now to be anything than what it's presented to be, which is the result of a drunken one night stand.  There's a lot to be said for this.  This is a comic book after all.  But this is also Buffy, and I'm not sure if it's just the writing, again, or a case of the subtext becoming the text.  Buffy really has no subtext anymore (except for fan titliation in the form of shipper chain yanking scenes) and that is made crystal clear in Buffy's decision utlimately to get an abortion.

Joss Whedon deserves an enormous amount of credit for going anywhere near this subject.  Especially in the medium he chose to.  Buffy has always been pro-woman (it has its detractors as well) and here the case is being made for a woman's right to choose.  The story (issue 6 of Season 9, on sale right now) features both the best writing and the best art of the season so far.  The scene above where she tells Spike of her decision is the most effective this year.  My hope is that she does not go through with it.  That's a personal wish, but also a concern that by doing so, Buffy is making a commitment to a lifestyle (slaying) that for the moment, appears not to have a future.  Buffy's real choice is whether or not she abandons her calling, and domesticates herself.  She chooses not to.  As a representation of women in a male dominated medium, and now, as a political argument, making this choice grows Buffy the icon.  This isn't just a comic book, just like it was never just a TV show.

Still, there are a few issues I have.

  • This is a case of men (Whedon and the all male creative crew) making politics of a woman's right to choose.  Given recent events, I feel this is part of the discussion now.  And it was before; the subject of female leads in genre media and who is/isn't depiciting them has been an issue for a while now.
  • The series has become literal, and now both literally and figuratively, it has lost its magic.
At the end of Season 8, Buffy destroys an object which erases magic from the world.  The consequences are considerable.  The whole premise of the world Buffy lives in evaporated.  It could be said that this event in Buffy's life being so literal could be a result of the magicless world she now finds herself in.  You could say that, but I don't know if it would feel true.

I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out.  I love Buffy and the characters.  My hope is the series finds its footing and the alchemy that made once so great.

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