|Buffy Season Eight|
|Issue 21-25: Predators and Prey|
|Written by||Jane Espenson, Steven S. DeKnight, Drew Z. Greenberg, Jim Krueger, Doug Petrie|
|Drawn by||Georges Jeanty, Cliff Richards|
|Published by||Dark Horse Comics|
After These Messages ... We'll Be Right Back!
Predators and Prey is the fifth story arc that spreads from the twenty-first to the twenty-fifth issue of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight series of comic books, a continuation from the television series of the same name.
Part I, Harmonic Divergence (Issue #21)But I want in!
Harmony tries to work her way into a hot spot night club; after being turned down, she bumps into Andy Dick, who is taken in by her looks. He pulls her into a alley, where they are pursued by paparazzi cameras that catching Harmony feed from Andy. Later, Harmony, in her apartment looking at the photo on her computer, narrates about how it got her famous. The photo was released in tabloids which caused a world-wide stir of interest in vampires. Harmony uses this pop culture buzz to land her own reality TV show with MTV, much to the Scoobies' shock.
Elsewhere in the city, underneath a billboard ad for the Harmony Bites reality show, a potential Slayer, Soledad, is trying to negotiate her way out of a street gang when she is jumped by the other members. Since it is her sixteenth birthday, she is imbued with the powers of the Slayer and turns the tide of the brawl to her favor. Soledad leaves the gang to walk through the city where she watches Andrew and Vi's television commercial for girls who have been recently imbued, but have no where to turn, as seen in The Chain. Rather than call the number as advertised, she figures that she would rather be discovered, where to her surprise, she is approached by Andrew Wells. After talking to Buffy on the phone, the Slayer figures that joining Buffy and the other girls would just be joining another gang.
The Slayer decides to have her gang tattoo covered up and while she is in the parlor Harmony and Clem show up with the reality show in tow. Soledad approaches the crew about getting on to the show, where they tell her that they will be shooting a party scene later that night and she is welcomed to come. At the party the Slayer has shown up, removed of her stake by security, and waits until Harmony makes her big scene arrival. Lacking her stake, Soledad improvises by breaking a clapboard and using the wooden shard to attack Harmony. Her attack is thwarted by Harmony throwing her Pomeranian at the Slayer; the Slayer recovers but not before Harmony grabs hold of the clapboard shard and impales Soledad with it on live television. Worldwide watchers are shocked and enthralled, propelling the reality show to number two. Harmony's publicists feed news organizations information that the Slayers are really villains, even worse than Nazis. And as Anderson Cooper carries on a interview with Harmony, the world believes it.
Part II, Swell (Issue #22)Uwa! Kaijuu da! Dare ka tasukete!
(Translated as "Wow! Large shellbeast! Somebody help me!")
Satsu tracks a four-armed monster through the city after it has attacked a Santorio Corp. armored car and made off with whatever was in the truck. On a bridge, Satsu confronts the demon and successfully amputates one of its four arms, dropping the item in question. The monster knocks Satsu off guard with its tail but not before it is zapped by Kennedy. Rather than being delighted in Kennedy’s timely arrival, she upset that Buffy sent the “other lesbian Slayer” to check up on her. During the conversation the monster attempts to attack the two Slayers, but is quickly kicked into the water below.
The two continue their conversation about how Buffy is really straight and that Satsu’s “true love” can never be reciprocated. They make off with the monsters bag only to discover that within is a Vampy Cat Play Friend prototype doll, which is the hottest new vampire crazed commercial item. The story shifts to the now three-armed monster conversing with a wrinkled yet young Asian man with glowing red eyes, who only promises the monster a quick death as reward for letting the doll get caught. During the night, the Vampy Cat doll comes to life and sneaks into Satsu’s room and climbs down her throat. In the morning, Satsu begins to act like a straight, traditional young Japanese maiden. Kennedy mistakes as Satsu joking around and the two wind up becoming a violent fight, with Satsu verbally degrading Kennedy for her alternative life style. Kennedy, enraged, kicks Satsu square in the stomach, forcing the Vampy Cat doll to be vomited out and discovered. It attacks Kennedy only to have its head sliced off by a confused Satsu.
The Slayers descend on the Santorio Corporation building via helicopter, where they find the entire staff deceased and sucked dry of all their bodily fluids. Checking through the computer files, they are informed that the entire Vampy Cat inventory shipped an hour before their arrival, with half a million of them on a ship headed for Scotland, Buffy’s secret location. This destination is due to the prototype Vampy Cat ascertaining the information from Satsu while it had possessed her, which it sub-sequentially downloaded to the other Vampy Cats. On the Santorio’s freight ship, “Daikaiju”, Kennedy and Satsu attempt to place a bomb on board to destroy the shipment, only to be caught before they could start. Since the entire crew on the ship is possessed by Vampy Cats, they are remarkably easy to dispatch, the bodies quickly crumbling into dust. The Vampy Cats abandon their hosts to attack the two Slayers whilst threatening to devour their ovaries. With the last Vampy Cat destroyed it warns that “nothing can stop the Swell!”
On queue a giant conglomerate of Vampy Cats, declaring itself Legion, tear through the deck of the ship knocking back the two Slayers. It begins to hail Twilight and boast on the destruction that they will bring. Before the fight can ensue Satsu lights a flare and throws it into the sky, the signal for plan B, a hidden Korean submarine that the Japanese Slayers liberated from some vampires. The sub fires two torpedoes at the Daikaiju, thus destroying it, and the Swell. Back at headquarters Buffy and Xander confirm that all the Vampy Cat shipments have since been destroyed along with the factory that produced them; while being interviewed by Larry King, Harmony purports the destruction of the Vampy Cats by the Slayers as another anti-Vampire outlash. From here on out, Buffy wants the Slayers to be more focused, to be more than human and better than the Vampires in order to win this war with Twilight. Much to Satsu's dismay, Buffy does not have any personal words for her, nor acknowledges their relationship as having happened.
Part III, Predators and Prey (Issue #23)The thing about the Slayer organization is that we’re not just coworkers.
Andrew runs through the halls of the Slayers base of operations desperately searching for Buffy. He finds Buffy with Xander and Willow going over data about the new rise in vampire interest caused by Harmony. Hoping to cheer up the group, Andrew informs them that he has found Nisha, one of Simone Doffler’s lieutenant of Rogue Slayers, outside of Milan. Nisha had been messing around with demons and got her self snared in a Ragna Demon’s nest. Pairing the information with reports of a gang of women robbing banks, military bases, Hot Topics, and roaming the country side terrorizing villagers, he feels certain that this will lead them to Simone. However, they must retrieve Nisha within 36 hours; otherwise the Ragna demon will feed on her.
Without hesitating Buffy plans a trip with Andrew and leaves everything else in the hands of Xander and Willow, who are surprised that Buffy would be willing to road trip alone with Andrew. On the way to the location Andrew talks the whole time, jumping from topic to topic, with Buffy only engaging the conversation when Daniel Craig is brought up as both of their favorite James Bond. Shortly thereafter, Andrew pulls off the road as they near the lair of the Ragna demon, which is a web, composed of iron and steel piping and siding with Nisha poised at the top in a containment field. When confronted, Nisha turns spiteful and makes threats for herself to be released, stating that none of them would be there if Buffy and Andrew hadn’t created the mess. Nisha explains that Ragna demons died out in the eleventh century and only recently came back into existence because someone spent all their free time in Italy performing recombinant DNA experiments to breed the spider demon back into existence, namely, Andrew. At this reveal, Andrew releases Nisha from the containment field and defends himself by arguing that it shouldn’t really matter how Nisha was brought into custody, simply that she was. As Buffy and Andrew argue over him lying to her, Simone is teleported to the scene, knocking the two down from behind. Buffy tries to talk Simone into coming back with them but Simone has other plans; she stuns the Ragna demon and teleports herself, Nisha and the demon to an undisclosed near by location.
Andrew and Buffy make their way down the web discussing how Andrew has come a long way and matured a lot but that he should have handled the situation differently even though he felt responsible for Simone’s rebellion. Since Andrew equipped the demon with some genetic modifications, specifically, radioactive isotopes, they can track the location Simone teleported to, an island off the coast. They arrive there by boat where they are met by a young girl on the docks, who explains how everyone in the town fled to the mainland when Simone and her Slayers arrived. As Andrew and Buffy travel deeper into the city they trace the signal to an opera house, which is a trap set by the rogue Slayers to negotiate a trade: Andrew for the Ragna Spider demon. Simone explains that she wants Andrew because she has an authority problem, and since he was her Watcher and a bit of drill sergeant at that, she wants revenge, plus, she says, he was incredibly annoying. Not wanting to let her friend go, Buffy engages Simone to a fencing duel, where Buffy bests Simone, until Simone pulls a gun on her. Buffy lays down her weapon and tells Simone to keep the Ragna demon, she’ll leave them alone for the time being if she is allowed to walk away with Andrew.
Just as Simone is about to shoot Buffy, the Italy squad of Slayers shows up to rescue their Watcher, Andrew. Buffy tries to convince the Italy Squad to engage in combat with the Rogue Slayers, but is talked out of it since Simone’s team has guns and everybody wants to avoid a firefight. Buffy acquiescence to better judgment, takes Simone’s gun and turns it on her. Instead of shooting Simone, she shoots the lock on the Ragna demon’s cage, letting the demon loose on the Rogue Slayers and the Italy Squad evacuates. Back at their base of operations, Buffy tells Andrew that he should feel proud of what he has accomplished, and how he was willing to lay down his life for the innocent and greater good. Andrew apologizes to Buffy for lying, and Buffy tells him to get used to screwing up for good reasons - he’s part of the family.
Part IV, Safe (Issue #24)Ow.
A disillusioned slayer, Courtney, fights a vampire in an alleyway, misses staking the heart and apologizes for trying to slay him. He chases her and she calls out that she never wanted to be chosen; the vampire retorts that he does not want to hurt her, just sire her, because everyone wants to be a vampire. Courtney and the vampire turn the corner where the vampire is met with a stake to the heart, and he explodes into a pile of dust revealing Faith and Giles. Courtney misinterprets Faith as Buffy, something that Faith clearly finds insulting. Courtney asks if Giles and Faith are going to train her, but they state that they are merely sent to find her because she went rogue from her squad, which she says she only did because she was ready to get into the field and begin slaying and her squad was not. As they are talking a vampire sneaks up behind Courtney, startled she turns and stakes him square in the chest. Staking a vampire makes her realize how much she does want to be chosen after all, citing she is not ready to go to the 'Slayer Sanctuary' yet.
This statement puzzles Faith and Giles, and Courtney explains that many of Slayers have left their squads to go to this village in the mountains called Hanselstadt, which is a safe zone where Slayers can go if they decide they no longer want to be Slayers. At the train station the trio boards a train for the village and Faith cannot understand why, with vampires now being on the rise, Slayers have gone into hiding. Giles says that if the girls see Faith, they will want to get back into the fight, but Faith tells Giles that even though things have changed and have gotten worse lately, if it is the choice of these Slayers to sit on the sidelines, then so be it. Along the way Giles observes vampires have gathered in numbers along the borders of the village, but dare not enter. As the trio leaves the train, Courtney tries to tell Faith the same thing that Giles did about inspiring the Slayers to fight, but Faith doesn't feel like she is the type to inspire these girls to fight, given the mistakes she has made in the past.
They are greeted by a Watcher, Duncan Fillworthe, an old friend of Giles'. As they eat in a large banquet hall, Duncan fills Giles in on how they keep the vampires out with the threat of a Slayer army, a threat which Giles says will only keep them out for so long. Faith questions as to the whereabouts of the Slayers, and Giles brings up the possibility of recruiting these girls, but Duncan says these girls have no interest in protecting the innocents that resent them for killing vampires. An older woman leads Faith and Courtney to the library where the sanctuary is located while Giles remains behind. On the way, a jaded Faith notes that there are no children on the streets; she realizes that they are walking into an obvious trap. The door swings open and, in a green haze, Faith is confronted with a vampire from her past.
It is revealed that when Faith was a young Slayer three vampires in an alley attacked her. She quickly dusted two of them, but got the third in the stomach, who merely removed the stake and ran away. Faith now learns that the vampire is responsible for killing all of her friends, leading her to feel regret for not slaying it. Courtney stands by and watches Faith fight an invisible vampire, as she doesn't share in the illusion. Behind Courtney are a bunch of green tentacles making their way out from the shadows.
Back at the banquet hall, Duncan fills Giles in on the demon that lives in Hanselstadt, which fed on the regrets of children. Giles realizes that it is the demon that the vampires fear, not Slayers, and that there being no children in the village Duncan sent out word of a Slayer sanctuary to lure disillusioned Slayers to be fed to the demon.
Back in the library, Faith is bitten by the vampire and falls to the ground. Courtney is approached by illusions of her parents forgiving her for destroying their marriage. Like Faith, Courtney is hallucinating where in reality she is being taken in by the demons tentacles. At the banquet hall, Duncan explains how he is the model Watcher, for even though he sacrifices Slayers to a demon, he has saved an entire village. He reminds Giles of how Buffy rejected and betrayed him by loving a vampire and allowing him to kill Jenny Calendar. Shocked, Giles runs off to rescue Faith and Courtney from being devoured by the demon. Duncan arrives, armed with a crossbow and tries again to reason with Giles to let the demon kill the girl. Out of nowhere, Faith knocks Duncan into the arms of the demon where he is devoured. Armed with the crossbow, she shoots the demon in the mouth and as it dies, it explodes, and from the borders, the vampires see this and now know that it is safe to enter the town.
Outside, the villagers are angry that their protector has been killed, and Courtney tells them that as murderers, the vampires should be allowed to take them for what they have done. Faith tells her that even though these people have done wrong, they are still people and that Slayers don't let people die. She tells the crowd that if they want to live, then they have to fight. This issue ends with Faith teaching Courtney that the only thing she needs to remember about slaying vampires is to "aim for the heart" as she, Courtney and Giles lead the armed villagers against the oncoming vampires.
Part V, Living Doll (Issue #25)Not the knife.
A hand selects an exacto knife from a set of various sharp tools. A voice pleads against the use of the knife, while another confirms its use. It is revealed that the knife will be used on a doll like Dawn, by a Geppetto-like elderly man in a room full of dolls. Dawn asks how long she is going to be held against her will there, and the man replies that she will remain until she is safe.
Meanwhile at the Slayer HQ, Buffy is complaining to Xander about Dawn's wandering off, whilst they and the Slayers are arming themselves against an oncoming attack from a vampire splinter army lead by one Judas Cradle. Buffy continues to dress for battle as she wonders where the Summers sisters relationship went wrong. As she heads for the door she asks if Xander can form a recon group to find Dawn; Xander replies that he’s already got Andrew tracking Dawn.
Andrew is at Berkeley, posing as a student, talking to another student about an ad for a roommate he saw. Elsewhere, Dawn is trying to sneak out of the room of dolls she is held in when the other dolls ask where she is going. She erroneously assumes that the dolls are being held against their will and tries to convince the other dolls that leaving would be better for them, but they counter that they were made by the elderly man, that he is their father. Dawn argues that she wasn’t made, but rather had a spell cast on her. This does not avail her cause, and the other dolls forcibly restrain her from leaving saying that she “can’t leave. You can never leave.”
Back at the Slayer HQ Cradle’s army advances to the lawn where it is learned is made up of Cradle’s family and friends, totaling a six man force. The ensuing battle is over quickly. Buffy and Xander continue on their quest to find Dawn and discuss how similar and different the two sisters are in relation to each other and life. As they begin to worry about the safety of Dawn, Xander lets slip that Dawn had slept with Kenny’s roommate, Nick. It would seem that Thricewises are not particularly known for their powerful magics, but Kenny seems to be an exception to that norm.
At the doll house the elderly man consoles Dawn that the other dolls just do what they are told. He had them keep her there while he was gone to protect her from breaking herself open and spilling out her soul. He goes on to tell her that since she is a doll, she is now at home with him and the other dolls. At Berkeley, Andrew and his new roommate are discussing magic and its uses. The roommate informs Andrew that he knows some things about magic and that Andrew has been setting totems in the guise of Yoda statuettes throughout the room. Andrew denies the fact as Willow use the totems to magically teleport all the contents and the occupants of the room to the Slayer HQ. Here it is revealed that the roommate is in fact Kenny, the tricewise ex-boyfriend of Dawn. He transforms into the demon side of his persona and flees the presence of the Slayers.
Buffy and Xander continue to track Dawn's trail through the woods while a woodland creature is following them. Buffy grabs a hold of the creature and tries to ascertain the whereabouts of her sister. It resists and Buffy throws the creature through some branches, where she and Xander hear it crash through a window. They discover a cottage just on the other side of the brush and begin to approach when Xander is struck by a dozen tiny poison tipped arrows and passes out. The resulting noise is heard by the dolls inside where they arm themselves against the intrusion. Dawn, seeing her chance to escape slides under a door only to come face to face with the Puppet Maker. She calls out to Buffy for help and before her sister can come to the rescue, Kenny appears, protecting Buffy from a woodland creature assault and bursting the door of the Puppet Maker's cottage down.
Upon seeing Kenny, Dawn apologizes to him, which reverses the effects of the spell and Dawn is transformed from a doll back to a human. Buffy confronts the Puppet Maker and threatens him for retaining Dawn. The dolls intervene on their creator’s behalf, and Buffy decides to leave instead. As the sun rises, Dawn and Kenny talk about what happened between them, and they both apologize for their actions. They make amends and part ways. Dawn decides to reconcile with Buffy, who apologizes for not being there enough for her, and that though she may have a thousand Slayers to lead, she only has one sister she loves.
- Soledad, drained by Harmony
- a japanese guy, killed by a VampyCat
- a Vampy Cat, betrayed by Satsu
- Japanese sailors, killed by VampyCats
- all Vampy Cats, killed in a explosion
- three vampires, dusted by Faith
- a vampire, dusted by Courtney
- Duncan Fillworthe, eaten by Octobitch
- Octobitch, destroyed by Faith
- Hanselstadt's vampires, dusted by Giles, Faith, Courtney and the villagers
- Judas Cradle and his pack, dusted by the Slayers
Behind the Scenes
- Predators and Prey has several differences from the previous four story arcs. Not only does it contain five issues rather than four, but the story arc is also looser, with the different issues being connected thematically, rather than by a specific continuing narrative.
- Each written by a separate writer, the different issues deal with different events, as seen by different characters. Despite this however, each deals with a different threat now facing the Slayer Organization. Harmonic Divergence deals with the threat of Vampires now that their existence has become public for example, likewise Predators and Prey deals with the threat now caused by rogue Slayers.
- Safe marks the first time that Jenny Calendar has been explicitly mentioned in the series since "Amends".
- Harmonic divergence features an in-joke in the sequence where Buffy talks on the phone to the new Slayer Soledad. In the background we can see Xander, Willow and centaur Dawn talking, then look up as if they've heard something approaching, then try to fend off an amorous stallion which has very obvious designs on half-horse Dawn.
- See also: canon
This series has been described as 'canon' by both Whedon and various commentators. As the creator of Buffy, Joss Whedon's association with Buffyverse story is often linked to how canonical the various stories are. Since Whedon is writing this story, it will be seen as a continuation of the official continuity established by Buffy and Angel.
This may mean it contradicts information given in the previously released Expanded Universe Queen of the Slayers, and Dark Congress, which are described as being set in an unofficial "parallel continuity".
Intended to be set a year and a half after Buffy's seventh season and thus after Angel's fifth and also after Angel: After the Fall. More specifically this arc occurs after Buffy Season Eight issue #20, After These Messages ... We'll Be Right Back!
Andrews reference in issue #23 to Heath Ledger's death would place this arc in at least 2008, five years after Buffy's seventh season. However, Buffy in the same issue refers to having known Xander for only eight years, rather than 11.
Harmony Bites (e-comic), the E-comic in Myspace and Dark Horse Presents issue # 18, the reality television show for Harmony that happens in and around “Harmonic Divergence”. Other tie-ins to the "Harmonic Divergence" issue appeared on a Myspace page for Harmony Kendall, and in "special inserts" in the Dark Horse comics Kull #3, Solomon Kane #4, B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #1, and The Cleaners #2, where Harmony is interviewed about her show.
"Vampy Cat Play Friend", the E-comic in Myspace and Dark Horse Presents issue # 19, which is a commercial for the Vampy Cat doll that appears in “Swell”
Printed versions of both of these E-comics are also included in the trade paperback collection.