A few weeks ago I started to read Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, loaned to me by the Comic Book Slayer himself, Fanboy Comics' Bryant Dillon. I had tried to get into Season 8 years ago on my own but the first trade left me so dissatisfied that I decided not to go any further.
That was a mistake.
This book gets me thinking more than just about any of the new releases lately. I published on Facebook my thoughts regarding volume 1 and the excellent Brian K. Vaughan Faith/Giles arc that sold me continuing the series, included here because I'm a completionist. Below that you'll find I've added my thoughts about the first half of volume 2, which were so plentiful I couldn't have posted it to Facebook on its own anyway. Enjoy.
Volume 1: No Future For You
Issues like the calling and death of a single Slayer that was so personal and made the struggles of the Slayer army more real than any Slayer army vs. zombies battle ever could. The lingering problems between the main cast, as new secrets worm their way in between our main characters and they struggle to relate to one another. And the four issue arc that guarantees I will be bugging Bryant for the next trade next time I see him, "No Future For You" that told an awesome Giles and Faith story (which I now realize was written by BKV so it's not surprising I love it so). Faith is one of those characters that isn't always written well, but when a writer really "gets" her and her struggles, damn do those make for some good stories. I'm a sucker for characters who live in a world of gray and struggle with doing the wrong thing for the right reasons and BKV told that story well. I can't wait until I'm caught up enough to tackle Angel and Faith now.
Volume 2: Satsu and Buffy
But the thing is people do experiment with sexuality. Not everyone, obviously. I've known more than a few people who identify one way and fell in love with a person of a non-preferred gender. Plenty too who gave it a try, enjoyed themselves, but realized it wouldn't go any further than that.
Which is why I love what Drew Goddard and the rest of the Buffy S8 crew were able to do here. Satsu and Buffy's time together is beautifully handled. Yes, part of it is played for laughs, but it's in such a manner that if Buffy were with, say, Xander instead the reactions would be the same besides a few gender-specific word changes. Meanwhile we see Buffy struggle to figure out her attraction to Satsu. What does she genuinely feel under these circumstances? Is it physical attraction? Emotional? The lure of good sex? Then there's Satsu's side. She's a woman in love with someone who doesn't love her back but returns her affection in other ways. She knows, and says so, from the beginning that she knows Buffy isn't a lesbian, knows it can't possibly work, but can't help but be drawn in.
Throughout this arc Willow and others have some hard conversations with Buffy and Satsu, due to concern that someone is going to get hurt. What I adore about their handling of this situation is no one judges them. There's no anger only concern. The same sort of concern that could have easily of occurred had Satsu been a man instead. Goddard addresses the sexuality barrier but also steps over it and tells a story I'd think we should all be able to relate to.
Best of all to me, is the way Buffy and Satsu end it. Again, not with anger, not with grief, with honesty and comfort. They acknowledge what they enjoyed, what worked, and what wouldn't. Their sleeping together never came across to me as fan service, but as one of those explorations of humanity and growing up that Buffy the show always did well. And if Season 8 can replicate that, well then, they can do anything. Even if the main plots are a little hokey, I'm hooked when it comes to the characters again and committed to reading the rest of the season.
PS: Buffy/Satsu is totally my favorite romance of Buffy's now. Mind you, the quality of her boyfriends doesn't make this difficult.
PPS: I kind of hate that Dracula is a thing again.
PPPS: Oh, Xander . . . . :(