Review: The Long Way Home, Part 1

Last Wednesday I think I doubled my life-time total of geek points. It went something like this:

1. I bought a single issue comic book
2. that I’d pre-ordered,
3. from a comic book store,
4. on the first day it was released.
5. I had a conversation with the guy in the store about the quality of the book
6. that ended with me saying “of course it’s good it’s written by Joss Whedon.”

I am now the proud owner of the first issue of Buffy: Season 8. I even have it in my hands, which is rare – it’s been lent out to various people pretty constantly since I bought it.

I’ve never tried to review a comic book before, and it seems to be quite a difficult exercise. I’ve only got a very small part of the story. It’s like reviewing a TV show at the end of the first Act

I’ll start with the art-work – it’s not as bad as I’d thought it would be. The preview art showed the most obvious distortions of women who already have a body-type. It helps that I like the cover, while the proportions are annoying, the basic image is of Buffy strong and confident. Or maybe I’m getting desensitised already

As for the words (far more important to me, since they were the bits done by Joss), I’m excited. There’s not much there, and I’m nitpicking all over the place. But it’s definitely worth reading, and I’m excited about what’s going to happen next.

Now the problems:

  • Xander the general of the slayer army – it’s not OK to have only one man in an organisation and have him in a leadership position. I’m fairly sure that goes against the message of at least two season finales (3 and 7).

  • Amy? Really? That really disappoints me, and makes it clear that Joss’s thinking of her more as an object than a character – hey she’s someone we can bring back – people have heard of her so they’ll be excited. In the high school episodes Amy was a great character, and The Witch is one of the most successful metaphors they ever put together. I don’t see why they had to do this to the girl who was so excited about eating brownies. I’m aware that this is actually an objection to Season Six – so I’ll add, I didn’t actually need to be reminded of the Magic!Crack plot-line – I’m doing a good job of blocking that out – just like I block out Spike’s existence post Seeing Red.
  • I trust Joss enough to believe that Dawn didn’t actually become a giant by having sex with a thricewise, because we really don’t need to go there again.

So those are my gripes. I love the dialogue (of course I love the dialogue, Joss wrote it). I’m very excited that the US military are treating Buffy like a terrorist cell – definitely a plot with a lot of potential.* I like where Buffy is emotionally, it seems quite realistic to me – the thing about changing the world is that when you do it the world’s all different. Sounds like a good starting point.

* Although hopefully less annoying than the actual potentials.

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8 Responses to Review: The Long Way Home, Part 1

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  4. 4
    joe says:

    Regarding your critique of Xander being the general.

    Were you saying that it sends an anti-feminist message or that it’s just not as pro-feminist as you’d like?

    I think it makes sense for the character and the story. He’s experienced in comparison to the newly awakened slayers. At the same time he’s not physically going to be much of a fighter. So it makes more sense for him to be in a role that doesn’t send him toe to toe with the enemy. Some sort of leadership role makes sense. If not a tactical role than an ‘advisor’ role or whatever. The alternative is either a bit part or the old justice league rule where like fights like. (i.e. batman fights cat woman while super man fights darkseid and the flash has a foot race with whomever.) I guess what I’m saying is what would have had him do instead?

    Speaking of the way that women are drawn in comics; are you familiar with stormwatch and the authority? There’s a funny scene where jenny sparks refuses to where a ‘body condom’ because she ‘hasn’t the bust for it’. If you haven’t seen it check it out. I think you’d like a lot of Warren Ellis’s work.

  5. 5
    Myca says:

    With how much Xander and his general uselessness has been a punchline in the series, I’m actually enjoying seeing him move into a position of authority in the comic. Actually, it’s similar to the way I enjoyed seeing ‘mousy, meek Willow’ of Seasons 1 & 2 turn into ‘powerful, self-confident Willow”.

    It’s nice to know that nobody’s a punchline forever.


  6. 6
    Jennifer says:

    Yeah, I second what was said about Xander- he’s got more experience than 99% of the Slayers out there- he’s been on the front lines for ten years now! What’s wrong with him taking a lead in the control room?

    I still want to know what the hell a “thricewise” is. In my head I’m making some kind of “makes your organs three times bigger” jokes.

    As for Amy, I think Joss kind of needed to go with a villain we could identify from the getgo, rather than create a new villain along with the new medium. It’ll take a long time to create someone from scratch at the glacial pace of comics, but by bringing Amy back and pissed off (and as a witch, she is an at least plausible survivor of the Sunnydale apocalypse), people get a sense of where it’s going from the getgo. I do wonder if “I’ll help you kill her” is referring to Willow and the military doesn’t know it, though.

  7. 7
    Dee says:

    I just started watching the first season of Buffy on DVD, so I’m no expert, but the actress that plays her just looks like a typical cheerleader type – a thin and pretty blond teenager. I never looked anything like that myself, but they do occur naturally.

    That cover, however, bothers me, and I think I’ve figured out why. She looks like a boy with boobs. Her hips are considerably smaller than her shoulders. Some women have smaller hips than others, but her body shape in that picture looks unnatural to me. Frankly, I’d rather see her drawn with an exaggerated hourglass shape – at least some women really do look like that.

    What is it with the hipless women in comics (and other media), anyway? To be strong, we need to look like men?

  8. 8
    Auguste says:

    Little late for a followup comment, but I just watched a rerun of “Potential”, a late-Season 7 episode, in which Dawn thinks she’s a potential slayer, and is fairly disappointed when she finds out otherwise, that she’s not “special.” Xander works to convince her otherwise:

    Xander: I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You’re not special. You’re extraordinary.

    Dawn (tearily): Maybe that’s your power.

    Xander: What?

    Dawn: Seeing. Knowing.

    Xander: Maybe it is. Maybe I should get a cape.


    Xander’s the perfect choice for the role Whedon’s cast him in this season, Y chromosome or no Y chromosome.