The saga of Billy the Vampire Slayer comes to an end this week with writer Drew Z. Greenberg wrapping up the two-parter that writer Jane Espenson kicked off last month. While both Greenberg and Espenson are extremely talented writers and have been paired up with top-notch artist Karl Moline (Fray, Buffy: Season 8), the conclusion to the tale of Buffy’s first male, and non-super powered, vampire slayer has left many in the fan community debating the necessity of this detour from the main storyline.
Here’s a quick summary of Issue #15:
This issue opens with Billy and Devon assuming their new and self-imposed roles of Slayer and Watcher. Between minor bouts of subtle flirting, Billy and Devon come up with their first target: a nest of zompires occupying a boarded up strip mall.
After doing some recon, Billy and Devon return to Billy’s house, only to discover via a breaking news report that a group of zompires has attacked the local public library where Billy’s grandmother, Sky, volunteers, trapping a number of citizens inside. Despite Devon’s objections, Billy grab some stakes and heads towards the library.
Devon shows up at the last minute, confessing his attraction to Billy and stating that he can’t let Billy face this danger alone. Together once more, slayer and watcher storm the library, slaying the zompires and rescuing Sky and a number of other victims hiding from the supernatural beasts.
The issue ends with Billy and Devon in San Francisco where they have meet up with Buffy and her new partner-in-slaying, Detective Dowling, and have become an expected part of Buffy’s team.
The “You belong” message. The reason for Billy’s existence is a noble one and should be appreciated by any fan of Buffy. Buffy and the Scoobies started out as outsiders and outcasts and have always been dedicated as a group to the idea of accepting those deemed unacceptable by the majority, even when it causes rifts between the core members that need to be repaired and rebuilt. Whether it be the school’s geeky, underachiever punching bag, a vampire who can’t fit in with the bad guys or the good guys, or a redemptive witch who nearly destroyed the world, the Scoobies are always willing to open their arms to those who want to do good. Xander, Willow, Angel, Spike, Faith, Andrew, Wesley, Tara . . . the list goes on and on. So, when Espenson and Greenberg made the decision to introduce a gay, male character sans superpowers, but with the desire to be a slayer, it was a conscience decision to say, in no uncertain terms, there are no undesirables when it comes to the Scoobies. There is no better endorsement of Billy or the idea behind him than the Slayer’s personal acceptance of him and his individuality. When Buffy says, “ . . . you belong,” that’s exactly what she means.
Well, except for zompires. I don’t think we’ll be inviting them to the party anytime soon. They’re just so f@#$ing creepy.
Cute Devon’s hair. What? I appreciate awesome hair, and Cute Devon’s gives Angel’s do a run for the money.
Bonus points for the use of the word “moxie.” Enough said.
Should this have been a one-shot??? As much as I appreciate the message behind these last two issues and the return of Espenson and Greenberg to the world of Buffy, there doesn’t seem to be much dramatic “meat” to the story of Billy and Devon. While it would have served as a decent addition to another Tales of the Slayers book, I just don’t believe that this story merited a break from the main Buffy: Season 9 plotline, which has already been slightly scattered. I’ve read these issues several times and, honestly, I’m still at a loss as to why The Powers That Be at Dark Horse felt it was right to devote two issues out of a limited, 25-issue season to this character and this story. Perhaps the answer to this question will be revealed through Billy and Devon’s presence in the final half of Season 9.
So, can any normal person be a “slayer” now??? As noble as Espenson and Greenberg’s intentions were, the mythology and history established by the previous seasons of Buffy really grates against the idea that Billy can be a slayer. It’s not so much an issue over the title of “vampire slayer,” but more regarding the dangerous position that he and Devon are putting themselves in. Zompires and vampires are a dangerous lot, and there have been many times when Buffy has chided Xander, Giles, Dawn, and others for putting themselves in danger and becoming a liability. This goes all the way back to Owen, Buffy’s one-time date in Season 1, who Buffy worried that “Five minutes in my world, and he would get himself killed.” Now, sure, Owen was a thrill-junkie and that’s slightly different, but the results of these objections by Buffy have always previously led to those around her finding other ways to contribute to the group. Xander and Willow aren’t fighters, but each found a way to be a helpful allie to the Slayer. The fact that Buffy doesn’t seem to have any objection to a mortal boy proclaiming himself a slayer and taking on zompires despite his lack of powers or training is a little hard to swallow.
The Ugly (Fan Buzz, that is . . .)
Fan reaction has been rough for this issue. The majority have felt as I did, expressing disappointment with the story’s simplicity and questioning its necessity as a chapter in the overall Season 9 story arc. That being said, most enjoyed the character of Billy, and Buffy: Season 9 #15 still got good reviews from Comics Grinder and Three If By Space.
A very special episode of Buffy. While I covered most of the fans’ complaints in the section above, there were a good number who felt that the message was a little too forced when it came to Billy. The good thing is that when the fandom heard that a gay character was being introduced, most were excited by the news. The bad news is that many felt this storyline was very heavy handed, and that the first major gay male character in the Buffyverse deserved better.
That’s all for now, Scoobies. I’ll be back next Wednesday with a review of Spike: A Dark Place #4. I’ll see you all on the flip side!
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer