Review, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #21 (The Core, part 1)

8 05 2013


The Scoobies are together again—and just in time! Buffy, Willow, and Xander begin a new mission as a team in order to protect something very dear to them all. But evildoers Simone and Severin have their own plans and are ready to undermine the happy reunion!

CREATORS
Writer: Andrew Chambliss
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colorist: Michelle Madsen

For once, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is trying to leave the world saving to someone else – Illyria and Koh – while she concentrates on family . . . Dawn, finally affected by the loss of magic, is lying in a coma as magic leaves her body. Xander, in desperation and anger, has made a deal with Simone and the Siphon – seeing their plan to turn back the clock as the only way to save Dawn. Meanwhile, unkonwn to Xander, Willow has returned, ready to lend a hand.

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Before actually start with the review, I’d like to add a couple of things.
This is not a professional site. I’m no pro here. I’m just a fan having fun. If you don’t like my reviews, good news, you can always chose to ignore and not read them. But let me tell you how stupid it looks to go and judge my “unprofessional reviews” and the minute I start reviewing Xander in a good way, suddenly my review becomes professional and you like it…..pathetic…
Second, I was asked by Christos Gage to spread the word that he’s no longer going to reply to emails or tweets asking him questions about the story. But he will gladly accept your questions and reply to them in Q&A that will be organized. Since I actually haven’t posted anything about it but just let twitter do the job for me, I’m saying it now, just in case there is somebody who missed it. What can I say but well done, to some lalalaland lunatics who in order to make their crazy theories work, they don’t hesitate to annoy people with emails, and then actually twist their words and post publicly in forums that that is what the creator told them in an email. Guess what, others can play this game as well, but others have the nerves to do that in public and not to twist the words. What did I say before, pathetic? Wrong, this second one is actually the definition of pathetic.

Anyway, I stop it and get back to the story. Since I’m no pro, there are going to be spoilers from now on, so beware if you want to read the issue yourself first.

So, in the previous issue Willow was back and Xander agreed to work with Simone and Severin. And this is how the issue begins, with Willow trying to help Dawn with her mojo. Problem is that her magic is limited, and there are not many things to do to heal her. In the meantime, as you see in the preview pages in the slideshow, Xander returns to Buffy, all beaten up. He tells her that Simone and Severin wanted him to steal the Vampyr book but he gets really angry when Buffy wonders how come he didn’t agree to help them. And the Oscar goes to, guess who?

Back at Willow and Dawn. Well her magic finally works and she’s able to give some more time to Dawn and wake her up. A very sick Dawn though, who starts to forget things and faces. So they’re all back in Buffy’s house to check on the Vampyr Book that Billy has been keeping. Somehow Buffy has an epiphany, wondering why Severin wanted the Book since he’s able to just teleport himself in the middle of the Earth. And she starts using her brain, – first time this season I think but more about it later – realizing that he probably wants to know the entrance of it, since a place powerful enough to keep imprisoned so many powerful Old Ones must be protected and there’s no easy way in and out of it.

So, Buffy with Willow and Xander decide to go to the Deeper Well, in England, actually not to fight Severin but in order to get more power to Willow. In the meantime, Spike returns to San Francisco but guess what, he has no intention to go and babysit the slayer. No, this time he’s there for the little bit. And all those guesses about how is going to be the Spuffy reunion? Keep those for the future guys, there’s none.

So, let’s get back to Xander, although most of this issue has Buffy/Willow interactions. I defended him strongly in the previous issue, let me take everything back now. He’s actually working double here, taking information from Buffy, passing them to Severin and Simone. It’s the third time that I’ll use the word pathetic in this review, this time for a fictional character but he deserves it. He’s the one that says that Buffy actually died to save Dawn, but no, he decides to double cross. He sees that Willow is back, but no, he decides to keep with his plan. He watches Willow having powers again, but no, Severin’s plan is better. He listens to Willow describing what’s inside the Deeper Well, but still pretends he’s on their side. He has Dawn begging him to stay with her, but no, he wants to be the hero telling her that when everything’s back to normal it will be because of what he did. Well guess again, Xander Harris, you’ve been in Buffy’s side right from the beginning. You’ve watched her dying twice in order to save the world and thousands of times risking her life. The Twilight mess that you’ve so accused her of in the previous issue, was part your fault as well. You were the second in command in her army of slayers. You watched her and the slayers rob a bank and you thought that was sexy. When Dawn was wondering and worrying about all those superpowers that Buffy suddenly had, you were thinking it was cool. And now you just decide to double cross, and believe the words of a villain slayer and a guy who’s been gathering powers, telling them exactly what Buffy’s plans are, where she’s heading and which is the other entrance to the Deeper Well so they can go there while Buffy and Willow is at the other side of the world. Well done, Xander Harris. I hope that last Old One who was banished there and created the very first vampire will also turn you into one. And have Severin drain you later.

As for Buffy, like I said I saw her using her brain finally. Problem is, although she realizes what the problem is in how to get to the Deeper Well, and actually Xander tella her what will happen if she goes to one of the entrances (not that he wanted to help there, probably he said that accidentally or writer’s mistake), she does exactly that. She goes to England, she knows that the Guards from the other side of the world will come and help the England side in order not to let her get in, so she leaves defenseless the New Zealand side. Probably thinking that Severin and Simone have no idea of how to get there. Not to mention that she doesn’t wonder at all, why Simone and Severin let Xander go, although they’ve told him their plan and he was going to warn her. And so does Willow, who was/is supposed to be the brain of the group.

The art….I’m sorry, but I just can’t wait to see this season over. The art is all over the place. Xander is a mess. Buffy’s back to her having-stupid-faces-unless-she’s-angry. Dawn is terrible. Willow is awful. Spike had only 4 panels, in just one he’s kind of decent, the rest three had me wondering who is that guy and what he did to that sexy blond vampire named Spike, or James Marsters in his late 30s if you prefer. Good news is that monsters look great. So do the rooms and decoration. I’m alrealy missing Paul Lee. Please have him as the regular artist next season, I don’t think I will keep on purchasing books with art looking like that.

Anyway. Overall, it was a nice issue. Would have been better if the drawing was actually…drawing. Although I have some questions and wonder of how the characters think and act in this season, at least things happen and the story moves forward, looks like it’s heading somewhere. Too bad we’ve waited for the final 1/5 of the season to have the story going and wasted all the rest 4/5. This season would have been so much better if this and last arc were actually told in issues 6-15, instead of having those issues wasted to pointless stories.

Georgia


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27 responses

8 05 2013
maggie2222

Thanks for the early review, Georgia. I very much like that Spike goes to Dawn first… I can’ wait to see how that plays out.

I’ll hold off judgment on Xander until I see for myself. He has a lot of reason to be angry at Buffy, and anger can cloud judgment.

8 05 2013
leykimayri

What can I say, I’m just self-pitying myself here, hahaha, I see the pathetic comments keep on going!

Glad I’m the one with the advanced reviews and they’re actually the ones that come here to read what I have to say, instead of accidentally reading what they write like in my case, or having others telling me what they said.
Yes, king, that’s for you, if you’ve something to say come here, instead of hiding behind a forum and a keyboard.

8 05 2013
MikeB

Thanks for the early reviews! :) It’s about pointless to complain about an advanced review. If one doesn’t want to be spoiled, one shouldn’t read the review. If one doesn’t want to read a reviewers opinion, analysis, considerations, etc.; one doesn’t need to read the review.

Xander should have let Buffy and Willow try to save Dawn instead of working with two clearly evil people. Xander is simply not punished for bad stuff he does. Dating Anya (at least in terms of his hypocrisy toward Buffy/Spike)? “Once More With Feeling” (6.07)? It’s doubtful he’ll be punished for working with Severin and Simone.

But I also don’t like that Xander’s storyline in BtVS S9 seem to be his simply betraying Buffy. He stopped being a Scooby. And now he seems to be hanging with Buffy simply in order to betray her.

Also, Dawn is merely Xander’s girlfriend. Dawn is Buffy’s sister. In BtVS S8, Willow was like Dawn’s mother figure. Yet Xander seem to think he has more say over Dawn than Dawn’s sister and ‘mother figure’.

8 05 2013
cil_domney

Looking forward to reading this issue – will read and then come back. I’m not surprised with the Spike going to dawn first, that makes sense to me as Dawn is the one in immediate extreme danger. Can’t understand the Xander Betrayer treatment but from very early on I was expecting a double cross scenario that would play a major part of the season.

8 05 2013
Stoney

Delighted with Spike this issue and as one who really liked his mini I am glad to see some direct reference to what he gained in that played out already. Loved that page.

I have to say though that I’m not down on Xander. I actually have a lot of sympathy for him in that he is feeling like he should step up to the plate and he is desperate to save the woman he loves. I often feel the monthly comic suffers from readers losing a sense of time/pace to the story. Dawn collapsed and in what? Two days? Pictures of her are fading, they couldn’t transfer her mind, Willow is talking about having gained her a couple of days and yet there are two people saying it can all be put right and noone would know that it had even been changed. Xander isn’t, I don’t believe, thinking about Buffy and betrayal or not trusting so much as expecting more of himself and thinking about saving Dawn, that is what it is about. I just can’t blame him for not ruling out S&S’s plan, I don’t think he is totally shutting down Willow/Buffy either or sabotaging what they might manage, I think it is just all about the final goal for him – save Dawn.

8 05 2013
leykimayri

I am sorry, I had a lot of sympathy for Xander in the previous issue although he was wrong in many of the things he said to Buffy. And although his actions reminded me of what he was accusing Angel of doing, and Buffy. But in this issue I just cant feel for him anymore.
Why? Lets take things in order.

1.He brings up the “I saw you dying for Dawn, I would never betray you” card, which looked lovely in the preview pages but made me want to throw up when I read the final page. Wen even he was considering Dawn’s killing a probability and choice in order to save the world, it was Buffy that actually saved her and saved the world by doing for her.

2. He sees that Willow is back. Not as powerful as she was in S8, but he sees she’s confident and knows that is the way to make things right. Although Willow actually says those things to Buffy, it’s safe to assume that Xander was also informed of that.

3. It is also safe to assume that Xander was also informed about the “no touching rule” that Willow told to Buffy. So he knows the dangers lying in the Deeper Well which could release an apocalypse in a magic-less world, but he says nothing about the Siphon trying to drain all those demons and gives crucial info to him.

4. The “standing back only watching other people act is the best thing you can do to help sometimes”, meaning being a watcher not the one who acts, plays hard in this issue. Buffy says that and so does Anaheed. In a way, so does Spike, deciding to stay with Dawn and “watch” from a distance Buffy trying to fix things.

5. Dawn actually begs him to stay with her, she need him to be there with her, instead of leaving her behind with 3 strangers. She’s only met Anaheed once, don’t know if she’s ever met Billie, and Andrew well is just Andrew who can’t be trusted. She’s losing her memories and left with total strangers to take care of her. I felt pity for Dawn when she realized that she was left behind and so would Xander, although she asked him not to.

6. Last but not least, Xander’s words to Dawn, combined with No 4 and 5. In those words it was clear that the reason he does that it’s not for Dawn actually, but it’s for him. He wants to stop feeling useless so he decided to act.

So what Xander does? What he accused Angel for doing last season, what he accused Buffy if doing last season. He prefers to work behind Buffy’s back and join the villains in order to “save the world”.

Sorry, I just can’t sympathize with Xander anymore in this issue. He’s totally disgusted me and I’m actually furious at him right now.

8 05 2013
Orchardist

I get that your in the “Xander is disgusting/pathetic mode” but perhaps there are a few things thar your not seeing.
1) I don’t think you can assume ALL the conversation b/w Buffy and Willow has been shared. It could have been but we don’t know. Especially the part where Willow apologized to Buffy. That’s kind of between them. So, we don’t know if Xander understands where Willow is “at”. He could be, I’m just saying it’s not a given.
2) Xander says he has to of to ensure things are the returned to normal. If he’s totally on board the “reset” plan (hypocrite or not) then going there to make sure it gets pulled off correctly is the right move. He needs to be at the scene. To help his preferred plan come true. I don’t think it’s about an ego boost. Even Buffy wondered why he didn’t help S&S, implying that a rest is not unthinkable.
3) I think the writers know Xander has both fans and people who dislike him, while right now he’s totally making the wrong call, I’m not so sure the writers aren’t just jerking us all around a bit.
4) why do people keep saying Xander was on the ‘kill Dawn’ plan of S5? That was an argument b/w Buffy and Giles. Willow, Xander, and Anya didn’t take a side. Xander DID suggest killing Ben but was then immediately disgusted by his own suggestion. In short, I don’t think you have a case for saying Xander was contemplating killing Dawn. We don’t know what he or Willow or Anya thought of that argument.

I complete am horrified with Xander’s choice to betray Buffy. And bringing up the past is terrible. It’s not over yet but I think Xander taking these actions could be truly terrible. I’m willing to wait and see before I wish him dead.

8 05 2013
leykimayri

It’s a comic book with only 22 pages and a lot happen off screen. Besides it’s a long way to England from SF so it’s safe to assume that Willow warned him about the non touching rule, and Xander would ask why is that. When Willow warns about the dangers, even if Xander is not present at the moment, it’s more than safe to guess that she’s also warned Xander about those, since he’s going with them.

Xander just cant control the chess board. He’s merely a human, and New Zealand is actually at the other side of the world, he can’t control neither Simone nor Severin’s actions. Bit he decides to give them intel about where the other entrance is exactly, Buffy and Willow say that there’s no way that Severin could find an entrance without the Book, so it was Xander who told Severin where the entrance in New Zealand is….off screen, comic book with 22 pages, but Simone confirms it.

As for what Xander and Anya believed about Dawn’s life in season 5, the way I see it everyone but Buffy was considering Giles’s proposal. It was only after Buffy made them realize how much serious she was about it and also threatened anyone who would harm Dawn that they decided to help her and trust that she’d find a way.

Like I said, previous issue I was with Xander. Now I feel disgusted. Maybe next issue I’ll feel better for him again, who knows. But right now I just want to break every rib in his body. We’ll see…

8 05 2013
Stoney

I just don’t see it like that. He is prioritising Dawn above all else and is determined to fix it as quickly and in any way that he can, he wants to be proactive and not just sit next to her and watch her die if he could change it. He isn’t in the right in all he is doing but it is understandable I think that he feels driven to try every angle. The appeal of being able to fix it in a way that fixes other issues (or at least reverses them) and can’t then be remembered because it is overwritten would, realistically, be appealing I think. It could at least have you not dismissing it as an option and that is all I see right at the moment. Xander is hedging his bets to save Dawn because she has a matter of days left but he doesn’t appear to be sabotaging anything else that might also save her.

8 05 2013
leykimayri

I really can’t keep on comparing him to Angel though, and I remember everything that I’ve accused Angel for. If I really want to be fair, I should start accusing Xander too, unless he’s really mentally unstable and needs professional help.

There is a reason why 2 characters in the same issue, two powerful slayers actually, repeat that the best thing to help sometimes is just sit back and wait others to act. That’s not what Xander does on the other hand, but he prefers to act and betray. Especially when he can’t control the other part, meaning Severin and Simone who are all powerful and working at exactly the other side of the world.

But I do believe that he’s feeling frustrated of not being able to act and change things and save people he’s lost so many years. Problem is that I believe that this is his main motivation, and then comes saving Dawn. He doesn’t care if he remembers or not, as long as he finally does something that matters and he finally acts instead of sit back and watch others. I can forgive him if he actually suffers from a severe PTSD, we’ll see if they’ll get the story there though.

8 05 2013
Veiriti

Nice review, Gigi! :D
I’ve just read the issue and I liked it a lot – finally something interesting is happening. Absolutely loved the page with Spike and Dawn! The moment when he held her hand was touchable. I hope Dawn will remember him… I think Xander supposed to be on
About the Xander’s betrayal – the situations reminds me of the lasts two episodes of Once Upon A time where Capt. Hook acted in a similar way with Regina and finally betrayed her. Well, Xander’s is not like Hook, Hook is a free agent, while Xander is Buffy’s best friend, but maybe that’s making his betrayal even worse. But despite of I’m not a fan of Xander (and I’ve never been) I’m not sure that Xander is working in 100% against Buffy. Maybe he is holding another Ace in his other sleeve. He is playing a double game – that’s obviously, but maybe he is double crossing the both sides. Or he is playing his own game only to save Dawn and his friendship with Buffy and Willow.
About the art… well, I’m not complain, maybe all these years I’ve used to like Jeanty’s freak and childlike way to draw these characters, but I would LOVE to see a new artist doing the artwork inside. Yeah, Paul Lee would be awesome!

8 05 2013
leykimayri

You give Xander too much credit I think.
I won’t comment anymore on him for the moment, because I will start character bashing if I continue. I feel disgusted…

8 05 2013
Elena

I read the issue and I more oe less see it the same way as Veiri. Xander plays a double game,, thinking that he could save the day by outsmarting everybody, including S&S. Apparently he won’t succeed (just because it’s Joss) but a lot of angst is guaranteed.

Spike’s panels were nice. I have the impression that he and Buffy will miss each other closely till the last issue, because the writers have to find a way to avoid a happily-ever-after.

It occurred to me that Joss could play a cruel twist in the last issue: Severin turns Spike into a human and one of The Old Ones turns Buffy into a vampire.

9 05 2013
ubi4soft

There’s a major shift in Xander’s “What would Buffy do?” and now trying it his way, it only makes him flawed. And if we stay with the poorly written “loss of magick makes people suicidal”, maybe Willow should have poured some on him.

I’m not a Xander’s fan, but it’s understandable.

9 05 2013
ubi4soft

Reblogged this on ubi4soft.

9 05 2013
_Buffy_

I liked the issue very much. I like the pics of Willow, Dawn and Spike. I can’t say that I am glad that Spike only sit on the couch and hold Dawn’s hand. He dosn’t help her in this way, right ? He has to do something, more action. I wander why the other entrance of the New Zelland side wasn’t guarded ? What kind of demon is this creepy girl with the red baloon ? And in my opinion Xander going to betray Buffy. I am almost sure.

About Spuffy reunion – I hope we ‘ll see them “somehow” together in the next few issues. I want to say many things but I am late for work already.

Gorgia, thanks for the nice review.

9 05 2013
whale

Cheers for keeping up your reviews even if people dislike them. There is no such thing as a professional reviewer other than the monetary sense that they’re paid. Other than that it’s just an opinion and yours is as valid as anyone else’s. Perhaps moreso because “professional” reviewers are compromised. There is no money that doesn’t come with strings.

Agree about Xander looking bad here and yes I agree it seems he’s more about him being the one to fix it rather than it being fixed. That was my opinion of him last issue when he stubbornly was refusing to speak to Buffy like a child. Here, he just comes off as stupid. For what reason at all would he trust the bad guys? It’s just…dumb. I made a joke about the last issue, that at least it wasn’t a talking dog, but this might be just as bad.

The Spike scene is sweet, but not congruent with the storyline. Whatever one might think of the Spike-Dawn storyline dump in S6, it was dumped. For S6-S9, Dawn was an afterthought for him, so the sudden angst seems forced to me.

I also think they’re telegraphing the storyline too hard. So we know the last/first vampire will show up and we know someone’s going to touch something to set off an apocalypse.

Also I think they’re supposed to be at Andrew’s, not Buffy’s, judging by all the comic/genre stuff on the walls. Could be wrong.

Have to agree about the art. Horrible.

9 05 2013
leykimayri

I really dont know about the place and the art is not helping…in the previous issue Buffy and Willow were wearing different clothes when they first met and they were supposed to be at Andrew’s roof. Then Willow goes to heal Dawn and Buffy changes her clothes, but I think they were still at Andrew’s. In this issue, Xander says that Severin gave him a ride home, but I thought they were still at Andrew’s. Then they go for the book, change clothes all but Dawn, so I thought they went to Buffy’s place since Billy was offering her things to eat. But then Spike appears and the window was broken, which makes it looks like Andrew’s place after Willow’s boom in it.
No idea, really….

As for the reviews and people’s comments on them, just a couple of jerks who used to know me from BFs and never liked me because I was a Spike fan. And now they’re just jealous that I have faster access to the comics than they do. That’s all…

Thanks for the comment 😊😊😊

9 05 2013
Stoney

Leyki, Buffy thanks Billy and Anaheed for ‘lugging the book over’ and there is a Death Star model hanging from the ceiling behind her so I’m pretty sure they remain at Andrew’s throughout.

Whale, I know that Spike/Dawn was a relationship that went awry but there were circumstances around it. Spike soulless got engulfed in his relationship with Buffy as destructive as it was in S6 and then in S7 I honestly don’t think he felt he had any right to try to push a friendship and make up with her following what he had done, how he felt about that/himself and generally trying to settle into his souled self amongst the taunt/torture of the First etc. It is quite natural and easy to let these things slip and get caught in a pattern that something significant suddenly breaks through. Don’t forget that this is all coming on the back of his time in his mini where he actually specifically contemplated how his soul needs family and belonging and that he may be ready to stop wandering. So sure, I can see that their relationship drifted but I don’t think the depth of his response as depicted in this issue is at all incongruous with where his heart/mind is at.

9 05 2013
leykimayri

Like I said, Stoney, the art doesn’t help since I can’t understand how Willow, Xander and Buffy would keep a wardrobe at Andrew’s place or why they would feel the need to go to their place to change clothes when Dawn’s lying sick on Andrew’s couch.

10 05 2013
Stoney

Well I can only fanwank that Anaheed and Billy brought stuff with the book because they definitely stay at Andrew’s with all the Starship Enterprises, comic models etc that are consistently in the background.

Total aside about the art. What has Georges done with Buffy’s hair when she gets changed? Is this some new styling that I have somehow missed because it looks idiotic? How the heck would you get your hair to stick up and out the back like that and why would you ever, ever do that? So odd.

10 05 2013
leykimayri

Because there’s a dick growing at the back of Buffy’s head

LoL!!

10 05 2013
Stoney

You just made me nearly choke on my coffee :D. I was thinking of it as more of a handle when I read the issue but I hadn’t noticed that panel, ha!

10 05 2013
leykimayri

I made you choke? I believe you meant Jeanty here, I wasn’t the one who has drawn Buffy with her hair like that…Maybe it’s a leftover power from her Twilight powers era…
When she feels horny, all she has to do is grow a penis, although she has to work a little bit better on the places where she grows them….

10 05 2013
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #21′ Review: I’ve Got a Bad Feeling about This » Whedonopolis

[…] Fan reaction for this issue seems to be mostly positive. The book also got a good (and drama-heavy) review from Light_Watcher. […]

11 05 2013
Faded Reviews

I FUCKING LOVE YOUR ATTITUDE. GREAT REVIEW AND A GREAT VOICE IN YOUR WRITING FOR SURE.

16 05 2013
Tennyoelf

I, at first, liked Spike’s return to Dawn…but then I thought about it and remebered what they did to Spike in AnF and realized that that soured the entire series for me. I can’t even enjoy Spike’s return or his scene with Dawn. I don’t know if I will last even to satisfy my curiousity on how it ends.

Also, Xander’s plot? Feels like an idiot plot to me. The writing for this season has been truly, truly awful.

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