web stats

CSBG Archive

She Has No Head! – A Love Letter To Buffy

Many of you know that I’m a massive unabashed Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan.  I rarely write about Buffy here, I’m not really sure why, but all that changes today.  Why today you ask?  Well, because Buffy impressed the hell out of me this week and it warrants discussion.

Artwork by Zugma

A word of warning, spoilers abound if you are not caught up on the current Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Nine comic book.

Buffy was (and to large a degree remains) my definitive touchstone for a feminist role model.  She wasn’t my first (that honor probably goes to Ripley from Alien) nor was she my last – I encounter inspiring new ones with much more regularity than I ever dared to hope (Katniss from Hunger Games,  Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo among others) not to mention those that I have discovered rather late in the game – like Wonder Woman.  But Buffy remains unique in that she’s been a constant feminist presence in my life for years, one I find I can return to easily, and one who grows and changes with me.

So it was with an anxious mind and heart that I waited these past four weeks to see how her comic book would deal with the ramifications of Buffy learning she was pregnant in the last issue.  Would they dare to bring up the still bizarrely taboo A-word?  Because I knew it would be a massive betrayal of everything I had grown up with and still believed of the character, and of her creators, for them to not even have the character consider an abortion.

It was with great relief this past week that I read Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Nine #6 and realized that they were not only going to address the subject, but they had devoted an entire issue to the controversial subject matter.  Add to that, not only did they address it – in exactly the right way – with the right tone, sensitivity, and with an honest and unflinching realism – but they actually had Buffy decide to get an abortion.

This was huge.

I felt so vindicated, and somehow proud. So often in comics, even comics I love and respect and enjoy, I am ultimately disappointed.  Most of the comics I read are ultimately run more by corporations and complicated editorial boards than creators and thus I find a lot more disappointment than I’d like to admit to. So it was really exciting (and unfortunately surprising) to see a comic reward what I already knew to be true so completely.

In boggles my mind that in 2012 abortion is still so controversial.  That a decision made in 1973 – nearly 40 years ago – is still such an issue that it can’t even be addressed fictionally without being a huge damn deal.  I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way about a sensitive subject like abortion, but I do expect that we should be able to discuss it rationally, and to see it in our stories.  I am fine with characters not sharing my same moral compass, or liberal ideals, or making the same decisions I would, in fact that’s in part why we read stories, to experience things beyond ourselves.  But to see issues skirted unrealistically in my stories because they are potentially polarizing is a huge misstep that keeps characters and ideas from being relatable, from being something you can fall in love with.  How can you fall in love with something you can’t believe in?

For some reason, we don’t yet live in a time where creators who need mainstream success feel they can be brave, bold, and most importantly honest, with regularity, and since we don’t, it makes me particularly thankful for creators like Joss Whedon, publishers like Dark Horse, and books like Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

In a really tough week in comics, this single comic book made for a good day for comics. A good day for characters. A good day for creators. A good day for feminism. And I get to say that far less frequently than I’d like, so thank you, Joss Whedon.

78 Comments

[...] Check out my “Love Letter To Buffy” on this week’s She Has No Head! [...]

I know Whedon has said we don’t know the “whole story,” but are you bothered at all by the fact that she got black-out drunk at a party and got pregnant that way (which is, more than likely, a rape)? Is that at all a betrayal of the character as a strong, independent, not-stupid person? I never watched Buffy, but I mentioned it to my wife, who watched a few seasons of it, and she said that that really didn’t sound like Buffy at all. What do you think?

@Greg: I think that everyone makes mistakes, and Buffy, like any woman is not infallible, and it’s important to recognize that mistakes happen, people are stupid sometimes. Being a badass hero doesn’t mean you don’t have your blind spots or your weaknesses. Being strong and independent doesn’t mean that you never make mistakes – I think that – more than anything political to me – is part of the message. The comic judges Buffy not at all for this mistake and in our society that is downright huge.

I do think the rape aspect is something they’ve got to deal with. Buffy is obviously not acting like she was raped, she doesn’t seem upset by it (then or now) or seem to think she was taken advantage of, so I can only hope that more will come to light about that part of the situation. I trust the creators at this point to address it and address it well. This issue more than proved that they’re paying attention, so I have Faith that there’s a plan here.

it’s really great to see this story. As a story in and of itself, as a rare non-demonic portrayal of abortion, and as a sign that the Buffy comic has actually taken the character back to emotionally relevant stories.

[...] She Has No Head! – A Love Letter To Buffy – comicbookresources.com Many of you know that I’m a massive unabashed Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan.  I rarely write about Buffy here, I’m not really sure why, but all that changes today.  Why today you ask?  Well, because Buffy impressed the hell out of me this week and it warrants discussion. A word of warning, spoilers abound [… [...]

Kelly: Fair enough – I’m only going by what I’ve read about the issue, so I don’t know how they’re portraying it. That, to me, would seem to be a far more interesting and emotional story – I get that the abortion angle is more “important,” but the consequences of what happened, I hope, will not get left behind.

Robert Kirkman must be seething with envy about now.

It reminds me of that episode where Willow deals with her outing as a lesbian and being with Amber.

Whedon’s way of dealing with touchy subjects has not changed. Seriousness with a tinge of humour.

Kelly, have you ever read the first twelve issues of Exiles? Judd Winnick gets a lot of crap for his writing, but he did what I thought was a good job dealing with abortion. I don’t remember the exact issue, but the story was early in the run.

I am not at all surprised that we can’t discuss abortion rationally. It’s one issue that people react to in as strong a manner as possible. Some people consider it baby killing, end of story. It’s very difficult to approach someone with that mindset and engage in reasonable debate. It’s often more surprising to see abortion mentioned and not instantly dismissed, or the cause of a character’s trauma, because some members of the audience cannot sympathize with a character who has had one. Not that the subject shouldn’t be brought up or discussed…

@Greg: Just to give a little bit more details, One of the major characters just died at the end of season 8 in the Buffy comics. Buffy had gone from being a leader of a vampire slayer army, to becoming someone that most other slayers hate. So season 9 starts off with Buffy being really alienated from many and bit of a mess personally. The opening storyline is called Freefall and that’s sort of what is happening to Buffy as a person. So getting horribly drunk and not remembering what happened the night before fits where Buffy was at the time. However, since then she’s been trying to get her act together. Although because she still feels she is a bit irresponsible when it comes to daily life is one of the main reasons she feels she needs to get an abortion.

That said, the issue I think is one of the best Buffy comics to date, as beyond handling a big political issue in a very personal way, the whole story is filled with great little character moments. Also the flashbacks with Nikki was great, expanding that character’s past while pushing forward the current storyline. It reminded me of some of the better Buffy tv episodes in both the great use of flashbacks.

Thanks, Matthew!

It’s weird, because I consider myself pro-choice, but hearing about Buffy wanting to get an abortion just rubbed me the wrong way… and I’ve been a fan of the character and the show for over 10 years. I guess it goes to show that theory and reality are two categorically different realms. It’s not that I don’t support her choice to have an abortion, I just have trouble imagining Buffy being pregnant in the first place, and it’s hard to wrap my mind around the rest of it. I’m pretty depressed over the fact that it happened when she blacked out at a party… I would’ve much preferred a mystical pregnancy with Spike or Angel’s baby, but if that were to happen, she would have to deliver and become a mom, ’cause that’s storytelling gold.

Other Mike, that Exiles issue you’re thinking about was actually around 16 or 17.

Gimmick issues like this don’t truly deal with the issue because the writer would not allow the character to be burdened with a child. So it’s just a way to wedge in a hot topic issue. This is an after school special featuring a character that has little redeeming qualities.

It used to be that comic heroes gave you something to aspire to. Now they give girls justification to be a blackout drunk who has an abortion. Sad.

Yes, how dare comic books behave like every other art form and address problems and situations experienced by actual humans. Don’t they know that comics are supposed to be disposable and irrelevant?

Greg, my first reaction to your comment was, “Who the hell raped Buffy? Galactus?” But drugs do effect Buffy, if she’s taking enough of them (hence the drunken blackout), so I guess it’s possible that she was drugged and raped, by someone knowledgeable enough or clumsy enough to use enough roofies to kill a normal human. End nerdrant, thank you for your time.

Matthew’s input is correct, and I’d like to add to it that Xander and Dawn are living together (and experiencing the difficulties you’d expect) and are less available emotionally, Buffy can’t forgive Angel for the Season 8 climax, and Willow can’t forgive Buffy for it. So she’s in bad shape, and she did what pretty much everyone I know has done under extreme stress. She’s a hero, but not in the ’40s style — she always possessed human frailty.

I, for one, hope she wasn’t raped. Since “abortion in the case of rape” is less controversial, I think it would be an easy out. I can’t imagine Joss taking such an easy out deliberately. He already addressed rape quite thoroughly in Season 6, so I kind of hope he just leaves it — there are other feminist issues to cover.

@Joe, the issue really didn’t seem like a gimmick at all, but a really great issue with Buffy dealing the the consequences of getting pregnant. No, preaching, but as I mentioned before, a lot of great little character moments. They even gave the pro-life a side with Robin Wood discussing what his mother went through when she was pregnant and a vampire slayer. How he was happy that she went through with the pregnancy despite it being so hard to balance it all, because without it he wouldn’t exist.

Also as Sarah mentions in a few posts above you, having a child has a lot of storytelling potential. Also Joss Whedon has gone down this route before, when Angel had a son. However, there was only a few episodes before they had him disappear into another dimension and reappear much older. As I’m guessing their didn’t want to have too many episodes dealing with dirty diapers and what to do with the baby while fighting evil.

That said, Joss has often mentioned about how Buffy is about change and the things people go through in different eras of their lives. Perhaps Buffy is too young and irresponsible right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffy continues as a series that eventually she has her deal with having a child

@Sarah, now that I just agreed that there’s a lot of room for storytelling with Buffy having a child, there is also a lot of storytelling gold for Buffy having an abortion, her dealing with the consequences of it. Also the friction and drama it provides when any of her friend, family and possibly the eventual father finds out.

Question: Why is is the first image I see in this article is fan art you filched and published without permission (and with no credit at the very least)? You’d think a copy of the cover might be more appropriate.

I know Whedon has said we don’t know the “whole story,” but are you bothered at all by the fact that she got black-out drunk at a party and got pregnant that way (which is, more than likely, a rape)?

Oddly enough, that same scenario (minus the pregnancy, which is not a small thing) was a big part of the setup to the somewhat Buffyesque series Veronica Mars.–though in that case she was not just blackout drunk, but drugged.

@Rhonda: It was an error, that I’ve corrected, I thought I had linked it, but the link was pointing to CSBG, not the site where I found it. I added a credit as well, though I’m not sure it’s the correct origin of the image, it is where I found it. If anyone knows a corrected origin/author, I’d be happy to change it.

I don’t actually think a copy of the cover would be more appropriate because I’m talking about more than this issue of the comic.

But thanks for being so polite. /sarcasm

Ah! Thank you, Michael P. My Exiles comics are buried in a long box somewhere.

My understanding is that I got out of season 8 at about the right time, so I’m glad that season 9 is getting good press. Buffy is nothing if not inconsistent, so maybe I’ll catch up at some point soon.

Buffy herself has always walked the line between “good Whedon character” and “bad Whedon character” to me. She’s not nearly as interesting as Xander, Willow, Giles, and Spike, but she’s not as offensively boring as Tara, Dawn, or Angel (as he appears in Buffy, not in Angel).

Nice read.

Btw, that first image you’re using is often stolen from the artist Zugma(the credit and her name cropped off and uploaded on fan pop and other places) who doesn’t like her art re-posted, so maybe erase it or link back to her livejournal http://uglybusiness.livejournal.com ?

@Elpie, Season 8 had I think 40 issues and I personally think it went a bit off the rails in the middle of the season, but then got good again towards the end of the season. When the season 8 was over, Whedon even said that he realized that one of his mistakes with Season 8 was going too big. That it was partly a natural reaction of going from tv show to comic, where they didn’t have any restrictions on what they could show to do big crazy things. While the tv show they were often told they couldn’t do something as it would cost too much and have to scale back. So in season 8 unfortunately some of what made Buffy really good, the small character moments was lost and so Whedon & others seemed to have dialed it back in Season 9.

It’s still early in the season, but so far I’m really enjoying season 9 a lot more than season 8.

@Skytteflickan88: Thanks so much for the link! I’ve emailed Zugma, and asked permission and temporarily changed the link to the ugly business tumblr.

I’m not quite getting the logic of your statement here:

“But to see issues skirted unrealistically in my stories because they are potentially polarizing is a huge misstep that keeps characters and ideas from being relatable, from being something you can fall in love with. How can you fall in love with something you can’t believe in?”

I’m all for not skirting around issues in fiction, but introducing such a polarizing issue into the life of a character does not automatically make her more relatable – it actually turns off quite a number of fans and potential fans. While many issues can be reasoned out (aka “I wouldn’t have made that decision, but it fits with who the character is”), abortion is trickier. Because to someone who is pro-life, abortion is killing a baby.

Those who are pro-choice would be okay with whichever decision Buffy made. While they might feel more vindicated by having Buffy choose an abortion, they see her having the baby as a valid choice as well.

To someone who is pro-life, however, having Buffy choose an abortion feels like a punch in the face. Buffy is the hero of the story, someone who fights for those she loves and all humankind, slays the bad guys, and saves the world. She died in her sister’s place. And, in the mind of someone who is pro-life, now this hero wants to slay someone who also shares her blood, who (depending on their view of the soul) either has a soul or will have one within 8 months, and who is completely defenseless.

And so, since they can’t fall in love with a hero they can’t believe in, a large portion of America (and beyond) will fall out of love with Buffy.

Thanks for the article. She has been my role model growing up my entire life, my one & only role model. Besides the sci-fi stuff, practically everything that has happened in Buffy’s life has happened in mine, except my mother is still alive. I even relate to this. In my honest opinion, there is no other fictional or real female out there who is a better example than Buffy… & it’s because she makes mistakes… but not all the time. Joss Whedon always knows how to turn one of her mistakes into an ever growing life lesson, not only for her, but for other women like myself. It was because of the show that I chose to remain a virgin through high school, no matter how much peer pressure was put on me. It was because of the show that I learned to love someone who was not right for me & was able to let go. It was because of the show that I triumphed from my rape experience. It was because of the show that I learned how to stand strong amongst any fear in my life.
Now it’s because of the comic that I can feel better about the decision I made when I made a horrible mistake on a drunken night. I hope, that if Buffy gets an abortion (afterall, it IS Joss Whedon we’re talking about here. A God could come beaming out of her belly at any moment & declare world peace)… then I hope that Whedon has her go through a type of depression because of the abortion. It is far too common that people think that women who have abortions are cold-hearted & feel nothing afterwards. Wrong. It is a VERY difficult experience for any woman. So, I hope Joss does something to make this decision extremely honest & meaningful.

@Katie Hart:

When I talk about believing something, I’m not talking about agreeing with the character, I’m talking about believing the story.

It’s unbelievable to me, knowing what I know of Buffy as a character, that she would not at least consider abortion as an option. She is young, single, financially crippled (and probably without health care), lives and exceptionally dangerous life and one that puts her often on the wrong side of “the law”, and has friends and family that though wonderful and love her are for the most part, equally ill-equipped to raise a child. It would have been unbelievable to me that she would not consider the option of abortion, and it would have felt like a betrayal of the character, and like something safe and politically motivated for her to ignore that as an option, to skirt over it in the book.

Whether she actually has the abortion or not remains to be seen (as I said in my review, many women who make that decision do not see it through for a variety of reasons) but 1/3 of women (in the US) will have an abortion in their lives, and an even higher number will consider one…so to pretend Buffy, with all her extenuating circumstances, would not even look at one of her three options in this scenario, is to me, completely unbelievable. It would have pulled me out of the story and felt wrong to the honesty I have known for the show, creators, and character.

All that said, If people are going to fall out of love with the character for making the right choice for her, then I suspect they didn’t really love her as much as they thought they did in the first place. Would they fall out of love with a family member who made that decision? I should hope not.

@Kelly,

I agree that it would be unbelievable that she wouldn’t consider the idea. But as I mentioned above, many people will find it out of character for her to go through with it if she does. And maybe falling out of love with the character isn’t the right phrasing – it’s when the portrayal of the character and the decisions made by the writers contradict with who the reader perceives the character is (especially with seasons of material to back that up) that readers become disillusioned with the story and stop reading.

To me, the whole thing is disappointing. We need to stop thinking that killing children and throwing them out like trash is the answer to unwanted pregnancy. We need to start accepting the unborn as human beings and afford them the same rights as any other human being. Authors should promote respect for life at all its stages, not the idea that commiting murder is okay. No one, whether in fiction or real life, ever considers adoption at all. That’s not right. Just because the mother isn’t ready, why not give the child to someone who is and let it live??? It’s time for society as a whole to drop the idea that it’s okay to kill children, unless the mother’s life is in danger. This show has always been a left slanting one, but even though it’s just the comics and not onscreen, it may still be a deal breaker for me. And yes, one CAN respect the rights of unborn children while still being a feminist. It always annoys me that people act like that isn’t possible.

@mm:

Your argument starts with the assumption that everyone agrees that a fetus is a child. (I know, I know — It IS a child to you, and nothing will convince you otherwise, and partial-birth abortions, and…. Trust me, I’ve heard the whole pro-life playbook, and it’s thoroughly unconvincing to me.) A fetus is not a child. Referring to abortion as “murdering a child” is therefore nonsensical.

“Unborn children” is therefore an inherently oxymoronic concept. It’s a phrase that doesn’t reflect biological realities, any more than the Creationist idea that the Earth is 6,000 years old reflects geological and astrophysical realities. (I’m not calling you a young Earth Creationist, but rather making an analogy.) If you want to argue that conception is the beginning of a human life, then you have to argue that something that has virtually none of the traits of a human being is somehow still a human life. A fetus is something that eventually through a long process called gestation and birth, becomes a chid. But it is no more a child than a blue-shelled egg is a robin, or a cheek scraping from a person is that person.

It’s virtually impossible to argue, prior to a stage at which extrauterine viability occurs, that a fetus is a child. Anything else is metaphysics, that is, unprovable personal belief without material support. And even at that stage, it is not self-evident that the fetus’s existence is more important than the mother’s

To oppose all abortion, you also have to argue that the fetus matters *more* than the life of the mother, the mother’s autonomy over her own body, and so forth. The only way I’ve ever seen that argument made requires you to treat any sexual act as somehow consenting to become pregnant.

And virtually no one who uses contraception, and many who don’t use contraception (who I would say are a bit daft, but whatever) now think or ever will think of sex that way. Having sex is not secretly consenting to the risk of pregnancy any more than walking in a bad part of town is secretly consenting to be assaulted or mugged. That’s not how consent works anywhere else, and it’s not how consent works here.

“No one, whether in fiction of real life, ever considers adoption at all.”

Wrong. Wrong in capital letters. Do you actually understand how painfully stupid it is to claim that no one in real life considers adoption? There are real children, millions on millions of them, in orphanages and other such facilities right now. So clearly millions of people not only consider but choose adoption agencies over abortion. Your statement is patently idiotic.

It becomes still more idiotic when we turn to fiction: Adoption is in fact one of the most common plot devices in fiction. To say that it is “never considered” there is simply to reveal your vast ignorance of the subject of adoption in fiction.

Frankly, if you can name one other fictional work of any prominence wherein a character has an abortion, I’d be surprised.

Just within superhero comics, you have Superman, the first three Robins, Orion and Mister Miracle, Beast Boy of the Teen Titans, Spider-Man, Jenny Quantum in The Authority, Hellboy, Wiccan and Speed of the Young Avengers, Loki, Barbara Gordon (in some continuities), Blade (whose mother dies in childbirth),

In literature, adoption — especially where the mother gives up a child she’s not ready for — is one of the most common of all plot devices. The 19th century novel, most mythologies, and much of science fiction and fantasy relies on heroic characters discovering their real parents. From Harry Potter to Oedipus to Oliver Twist, it’s a near-universal trope. Similarly, the idea of a mother dying in childbirth — implicitly a rejection of abortion as a means to save the mother’s life — is found throughout fiction. (This isn’t adoption per se, but it’s certainly not abortion, is it?)

Within movies, you’ve had the relatively recent hit film Juno, which was entirely about a teen mother who wanted her child adopted after rejecting abortion explicitly as an option. And scores more films, like Knocked Up, show people rejecting abortion and either having the cild themselves or (as in literary fiction) giving the child up.

Your argument is wrong on multiple levels, and you’re not convincing anyone who doesn’t already agree with you. That’s sort of how the abortion debate works in general, of course, so you shouldn’t be terribly surprised.

I’m not going to respond to your next frothing post, which I anticipate as a sort of dull inevitability. And I’m fairly sure it will be a pile of sputtering outrage as bereft of facts and understanding as the one to which I’m now replying, with the added element that you won’t take up my challenge to name a prominent work of fiction wherein a character has an abortion.

@Omar: wow, well said.

I can’t even begin to approach your eloquence and logic, but I would just like to say that Buffy – the show, the comic – has always been about choices. She is the Chosen One, and her whole pre-Season 8 life was laid out for her by a bunch of old men and their prophecies. As a burgeoning woman, she doesn’t accept this patriarchy and she demands to make her own choices – to go to prom, to have sex with vampires, to sacrifice herself to save her sister, and the world. And so many other choices that she made on her own accord.

Anyone who thinks Buffy facing this issue is out of character clearly has no real understanding of Buffy as a character, or the conflicts and themes that drive the entire Buffy narrative. Abortion is a choice, and surely a difficult one, and we love seeing Buffy struggle. This is no different.

So she got drunk and made a mistake. Nothing new there either. Buffy and booze don’t mix well. The entire series is about making choices, often the wrong ones, and the consequences that come from these mistakes.

And of course Buffy is pro-choice. In the broadest sense, isn’t that kind of her mission statement?

My birth mother considered adoption. So did Stephanie Brown. And, obviously, all those other people Omar mentioned.

I’d also like to point out that, at this early stage, what’s in Buffy’s womb is probably a blastocyst rather than a fetus.

daniel the demon cleaner

February 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

A fetus is not a child. Referring to abortion as “murdering a child” is therefore nonsensical

Um…yeah, that argument never really clicked with me. I mean, I get it a fetus is not a child, but we all know it’s going to be in a few months. So, I think referring to abortion as “murdering a child” is kind of fair, it gives you a good perspective on the whole issue.

That being said, I’m totally a pro-choice person.

daniel the demon cleaner

February 14, 2012 at 8:19 am

By the way, since when is Spike dating Buffy?

By that logic, Daniel, having sex with a child is the same as having sex with an adult. Sure, it’s not one now, but it’s going to be in a few years.

daniel the demon cleaner

February 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

I’m not saying that abortion=murder It’s just that we shouldn’t dismiss such an opinion the way Omar did.

Captain Librarian

February 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

Oh boy, here we go. Full disclosure, I’m not a Buffy fan, though I recall the buzz about the show and have enjoyed Joss Whedon’s work on Firefly and Astonishing X-men, so…guess that counts for something? Regardless…

On abortion itself: A child is uniquely human in its DNA and other distinctives from conception, and key features develop very early. A child’s heart beats as soon as week 6, for instance.

I’m also probably in the minority in this particular forum but a blanket dismissal of all ‘metaphysical’ claims doesn’t stand up, at least not without dangerous consequences. Human rights, dignity, many things we hold dear are not, IMHO, based on anything ‘provable,’ at least in the strictist sense (I think there’s good reason to believe in them, but that’s another dialogue). To deny humanity to least among us a travesty; and to say, “We can’t be sure” and then terminate them pleading ignorance is…dubious to me at best.

Abortion is to me, expect perhaps in cases needed to save another life, an unjustified use of fatal violence to something is uniquely human (please note I haven’t said anything about my positions on war, the death penalty, etc, there are anti-abortion people with a variety of views on such things).

As for Buffy…the Buffy team is free to take the story where ever they wish, and have Buffy act as they think she would in the given situation. They will undoubtably receive accolades and condemnation from the appropriate sources, building a bit of buzz that the comic may not have otherwise enjoyed. But yes, when I think of titles I do pick up, a similar storyline wouldn’t encourage me to pick up the issue as one who is against abortion on demand, and would make me consider (though I’m not saying for sure I would) drop the title, at least until the story ended. And yes, it would probably hurt my impression of the character overall. To respond to Kelly’s point: Keep in mind, Buffy is a fictional character. I’d be deeply saddened if a family member or friend had an abortion, but I would still love them. As connected as we get to fictional characters, I’m not going to have the same investment or patience as with a real person.

We all know Buffy will have the abortion or the writer will get her out of it with a miscarriage or magic or something.

The only way the abortion would be justified to me is if the aborted fetus came back as a vampire fetus and haunted Buffy.

Buffy the Child Slayer! What a hero!

I don’t find abortion as a topic or buffy’s decision offensive, it’s part of the drama, and I will be insulted if the subject carries no further consequences emotionally for Buffy like it has many women.

what insults me is Kelly Thompson saying it boggles her mind abortion is still considered in controversial issue. That basically tells me All I need to know about her respect for other people’s beliefs on the topic

@ Greg Burgas: Just because Buffy got black out drunk and had sex doesn’t mean she was raped. Guys get black-out drunk and have sex too. If they are both black out drunk, I would not characterize it as rape. Buffy, being superstrong, could very well have forced herself on some drunk guy, so maybe she raped some dude.

@ all of the pro-lifers: most of your claims don’t stand-up to scientific scrutiny, and expecting a fictional literary character to make all of the same choices you would certainly take all of the dramatic tension out of a story, no ?

well said Kelly, I couldn’t agree more.

Does anyone imagine that you’re going to convince anyone to your side — pro-life or pro-choice — on the comments section of Comic Book Resources? Think about that for a moment.

Good. Now, stop the abortion arguments.

The real point here is the ability of a comic to deal with a serious and substantive issue. There have been some dealings — several Marvel superheroes have come out as homosexual, for example. But I can’t think of any other abortion dealings.

The question was asked some time ago about a character who had had an abortion in fiction. The closest I can come is Robin Masters in “V: The FInal Battle,” who tried but failed.

Regardless of my abortion position (note how I’m not tipping my hand), I applaud Joss Whedon for taking up the issue, and hope that he sticks to it believably and maturely. He’s capable of doing it, certainly.

Let me begin by saying that I’m pro choice for others but my wife and I are pro life for ourselves personally. She had a miscarriage at 10 weeks a few years ago and, even after having a healthy daughter ten months ago, we still think about that baby almost every day. My life and my decisions are my own, I don’t consider to tell someone that they are wrong for their beliefs but unless Omar has experienced a situation like that in his adventures with Doctor Strange, he needn’t be so dismissive of other peoples beliefs.

@Dave: Scientific scrutiny? Please, according to science all life is worthless, the human life is only valued because we are human and we value our own life. So it isn’t up to science to determine the worth of an unborn human being, that’s a task of society. And it already is, try kicking a pregnant woman and cause a miscarriage. Instead of just being judged for the injuries sustained to the woman, you’d be charged for killing the fetus too. So it seems to me that human laws already acknowledge that the worth of a fetus isn’t “zero”, so to speak, even when they vary from place to place.

As for the article itself: I have never seen, or read anything Buffy (save the movie, but apparently Joss Whedon hates it) but boy, I have never seen a positive review of something turn me off so much of its subject matter! It makes it seem as if the comic/TV series is overly preachy or believes that it’s smarter than its audience. Instant turn-off!

And we all must remember that something may (I’m not saying it will) happen and Buffy will change her mind. Or that choice may be taken from her. We don’t know where Joss is going to go with this. I, for one, will wait and see.

Please, according to science all life is worthless, the human life is only valued because we are human and we value our own life.

I’d love to see where science “says” anything of the kind. It’s an apples and oranges argument. It would be more accurate to say that science doesn’t make that kind of value judgment at all.

@Max_Power: Perhaps, you shouldn’t judge something before you expirence it for yourself. While the comic doesn’t get into the debate of when life begins (which I think at is core is the whole abortion debate is about), it does give a pro-life argument with Robin Wood.

Robin is a son a previous Vampire Slayer from the 1970′s, Nikki Wood. Buffy goes to Robin to ask him about advice and despite the issues of a child slightly traumatised from having a mother who battled vampires, he tells her to have the child because if Nikki had chosen differently he would not exist. There’s also a lot of flashbacks to Nikki about how having a child made her a stronger person and a better vampire slayer. That having a child gave her a reason to fight and she might not have survived as long as she did, if she did not have Robin.

So while Buffy decides on abortion (we still don’t know if she will go through with it) I don’t think it comes across as preachy and characters do argue that Buffy should have the child, she just doesn’t listen to them.

Note that Joss Whedon is an athetis, yet still managed to create an incredibly strong preacher in Shepherd Book in Firefly. While Whedon has come out as very pro-choice, I expect him to continue to have a balance in the story. Because everyone being on the same page and agreeing all the time, makes for a lousy story.

@buttler: Hey, I actually agree with you, it’s just that I like a bit of sensationalism too. Except for the apples and oranges argument, not sure what you meant with that. But anyway, science is completely done by comparing something with something else, so from a scientific standpoint, to compare apples and oranges is pretty valid.

@daniel the demon cleaner- It gives a perspective from one side of the argument and an extreme side of it at that. Even most pro-lifers wouldn’t consider putting a woman who had an abortion on death row or life in prisonment for having an abortion which would be the obvious place to put a murderer

I was just given a basket of apples and oranges today, but they’re actually getting along pretty well so far.

If Buffy is a child killer for getting an abortion, then Xander is a genocidal monster, killing millions of potential babies in each of his well-documented masturbation sessions.

Life is hard right now for everyone, the world is a tough place to be. So if only for a little while, people need a break, a release from harsh reality and comic books should do this. But they don’t. Not any more. I’m tired of this sort of crap. As soon as comics start dealing with “issues”, it’s time to go. As soon as I discovered what was coming up in Buffy, who I’ve loved and have been following since Season 1 and all through the comics, I knew it was time to leave.

@John O’Connor- Wasn’t she almost raped in the tv show by spike or something? Plus going to hell, her mother dying and a whole bunch of other stuff. How’s this story out of the ordinary for the character?

Omar Karindu,

Please watch this video from the Ted Conference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70

It’s all science so it might be hard for you to stomach based on your comments.

If Buffy decides to have an abortion then so be it. The title of “hero” will certainly no longer apply.

You’re actually *proud* that Buffy killed her baby?

Yikes. That’s so very creepy, and so very sad, on so many levels.

I pity you.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. But thanks for trolling!

@gzapata-I’ll say it again, in case you didn’t get it the first time. Comics are meant to be a release, to entertain. They’re not doing it. Not the majors anyway. DC are conning people stupid with The New52 and Marvel are force feeding gruel like Avengers vs. X-Men. And now we have abortion in Buffy, an “issue” and one that is guaranteed to tear people apart. I’m only interested in that which brings people together. Comics no longer does this. This is what I’m talking about, comics and how far they’ve fallen. I have no intention of arguing with you. I’m tired and I’m done.

Well, John, there’s no need to argue aesthetics! Different strokes for different folks. There was also no need to pretend that you were familiar with Buffy either, nor was it particularly wise, but we won’t hold the little lie against you. It’s all OK! Yay!

“Black-out drunk” doesn’t mean she was unconscious you know, it means she later can’t remember clearly what happened. The man was likely in a similar state of drunkenness. If he wasn’t, and he did realize how drunk Buffy was, then he did take advantage of her. But I think Buffy is assuming otherwise, or it’s just not the most pressing issue on her mind.

I don’t know. I appreciate the issue they’re dealing with, but something so far doesn’t ring true to me. I get that Buffy’s situation is not (at all) conducive to raising a child, but it still doesn’t really feel like a Buffy decision to me. I think she cares way too much about saving lives to go through with this decision. I hope I’m right. It’s really rubbed me the wrong way.

This whole comment thread is sad and mostly ridiculous. Also I agree with Kelly.

I didn’t even blink at this “controversial” comic issue, and I’m also not going to blink when it turns out to be a magical invincible super-demon quantum pregnancy in the next episode.

Just to get get it out of the way-I’m against abortion. But I’m not exactly biased. My mom tried to abort me twice. She lost her nerve and ended up giving me up for adoption.

So anyway, Buffy choosing to have an abortion does seem to go against her character. Of course this isn’t the first time Buffy has done something completely unBuffylike. At the very least I think she would try to find out who the father is.

Do vampires have DNA?

” Life is hard right now for everyone, the world is a tough place to be. So if only for a little while, people need a break, a release from harsh reality and comic books should do this. But they don’t. Not any more. I’m tired of this sort of crap. As soon as comics start dealing with “issues”, it’s time to go. As soon as I discovered what was coming up in Buffy, who I’ve loved and have been following since Season 1 and all through the comics, I knew it was time to leave. ”

They also allow people to better contemplate and understand those issues, as opposed to cowering from them in a Huxleyesque soma.

Here’s what I’m going to say, in general, regarding this post and the resulting comments:

1. If you are prejudging this comic based on my column, or anyone’s, without having read the issue, you’re making a mistake. But if you like to make those kind of mistakes, have at it, the comic and fandom are better off without you.

2. Though I state it clearly in the review I wrote (and linked to), I suppose I could have made it more clear in this column that just because Buffy has decided to get an abortion does not mean she will go through with it. I personally hope she does have the abortion for a variety of reasons, many of which I’ve already stated, but there are a hundred different ways the story could go and nothing has been revealed yet.

3. The idea that Buffy, as a character, television show, or comic book has never been about “issues” is patently absurd. The entire concept is monsters as metaphor for high school/adolescence/etc. If you’re a fan of Buffy and you didn’t know that…you were missing A LOT OF LAYERS. And really…the whole point.

4. I personally heartily reject the idea of comics (or any medium) as simply “feel good entertainment” and nothing more. I can think of few things I truly love that are brainless entertainment. All the best stuff manages to both entertain and be “about” something. The two are not mutually exclusive. And how you could connect to something powerfully that is not actually about anything except escape, baffles me.

5. While it is entirely possible to be personally pro-life (i.e. be someone who would not get an abortion) and still be a feminist, it’s pretty hard to be a feminist and take a pro-life stance from a legal/governmental point of view, as pro-life by its very nature goes against many of the ideas of feminism – primarily that anyone, or any government, should have agency over another woman’s body and reproductive rights. But again, I don’t want to get into a pro-choice/pro-life debate…which brings us to the final point…

6. I suppose I should have expected that this is what the comments thread would devolve into…but I must express disappointment nonetheless because that is so NOT what this piece was about. Perhaps that’s my failing as a writer, but the point of the piece was to talk about polarizing issues being discussed honestly in fiction and what a rare treat that is and how we should all demand more of the same because it makes our stories all the more relevant, believable, and heart rending.

It’s sad that it has to devolve into this.

Specifically:

@daniel the demon cleaner: Buffy is not dating Spike (though in this writer’s opinion she should be!)

@A Different Lee:
“what insults me is Kelly Thompson saying it boggles her mind abortion is still considered in controversial issue”

I would call that a DRASTICALLY shallow read of the text. Maybe try going back and reading again what I actually wrote…without all the prejudgement and hysterics. I think you’ll see that’s not an accurate take away in the least.

It’s one of those hot button issues that is going to get folks riled up regardless how nuanced your point may have been. It’s like the red flag to the bull on both sides.

But yeah, I’m not shocked that this came up in a Buffy book, and had there been more seasons of the show I’m sure it’s something Whedon would have got into. Throughout Buffy’s run Joss was all about keeping it relevant despite the crazy window dressing.

This is a real decision that people are faced with, it is worth an honest discussion. I’m glad to hear it was handled well.

“Perhaps that’s my failing as a writer”

Yes, perhaps it is. But clarity does not come easy to some, as this article and your comment will attest.

Even sadder that the writer of this piece makes the comment that if you disagree with her then comics are well rid of you and that you were not a “real” fan and never liked the character to begin with.

That the writer of this piece goes off the rails in her defensiveness and then chastises fans as not being real fans as some textbook diversionary tactic is more insulting to me than the position she takes that her “hero” is even more of a hero for considering a procedure that everyone knows is vile based on their hysterical, bizarre need to rationalize and normalize it both in the real world and in the world of fiction.

Luckily for fandom, the litmus test that this writer would place on her peers is one that is delusional and therefore, easily dismissed.

@Eric Hart:

Clarity it seems has missed its mark with you as well…as has reading comprehension.

“the writer of this piece makes the comment that if you disagree with her then comics are well rid of you and that you were not a “real” fan and never liked the character to begin with.”

I say nothing of the sort.

I said that if you want to swear off an entire character and universe without even reading the issue in question then comics and fandom are well rid of you. Read it again. I’m quite certain that’s what it says.

I also wholeheartedly stand by the idea that you’re missing A LOT OF LAYERS, and really the whole point, if you don’t know that Buffy is, and always has been about “issues”. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a fan or call yourself a fan, but it means you’re missing most of what is wonderful about the work.

I don’t know how this issue could make someone feel good, as just reading the description made me feel somewhat ill. I don’t say this to knock you ot anyone else, I just thought it was strange and worth pointing out. I mean, we’re all human, so why are our instincts on this so different? Just a strange, funny thing.

I wasn’t going to say anymore about this, but there have been statements made that I cannot let go unanswered.

@Jonathan:
You accused me of being unfamiliar with Buffy and of being a liar. Are you familiar with me? Do we know each other from this or a previous life? Are you in the habit of making insulting and damaging comments about someone you don’t know in a public forum? If you are, prove what you say, otherwise, shut your hole.

@Neil Kapit:
All you could do was quote me verbatim and then stick in your insult about cowering from issues in a “Huxleyesque soma” ( whatever the hell that is ). I don’t cower from anything or anyone.

There is a growing feeling amongst comic fans that publishers are starting to run out of ideas. This is what I’ve been trying to say, it’s happening at DC, it’s happening at Marvel and now, sadly, it appears to be happening at Dark Horse with Buffy. And, if there are no ideas, they will not entertain nor will they be about anything.

And if you don’t like what I’m saying. Tough.

” it’s pretty hard to be a feminist and take a pro-life stance from a legal/governmental point of view, as pro-life by its very nature goes against many of the ideas of feminism – primarily that anyone, or any government, should have agency over another woman’s body and reproductive rights.”

That’s a convenient way to define the issue to suit your view on it.

The key contention of the abortion issue is whether one considers a fetus (setting aside the development stages for the moment) to be a full human life or not. That’s not really debatable: I’ve never heard a pro-choicer, feminist or otherwise, say of “of course abortion is killing a person, but i support it anyway!” I’ve never heard a pro-lifer say, “of course it’s not a person , but it should still be outlawed!”

Anyway, the real cowardice in the story is in not dealing with the potential rape. If Buffy truly doesn’t remember anything, than it’s as likely a scenario as anything. But I don’t think Joss really wants to go there, even in terms of having her acknowledge the chance. It was similar in Dollhouse. The heroine was basically a occasional sex slave by design, but it was presented as more case of another TV Sexy Spy. It’s like the ramifications didn’t dawn on him until later.

@Kelly Thompson

It is not a shallow commentary it’s completely childish and niave to think people’s emotions are not going to erupt in character’s they have invested in. Especially where you have a fanatical group that believes life begins at conception and has rights at that point. The statement is still a knock on those people and it does condescend their beliefs.

As a writer you can not believe language does not spark emotion. When you use words like boggles the mind or mention hysterics you yourself move the conversation away from the facts and into the realm of emotion, but honestly I did the same, and I stand by the belief that you were condescending with the use of your language with boggles the mind.

Is that less hysterical?

[...] Mary Sue‘s and She Has No Head!‘s commentary on Buffy, Season 9 #6, in which Buffy takes on a very real (and relevant) moral [...]

So I just read all of this, and I know this thread is dead, but I had to add something that I think was overlooked and could be important later on in the Buffy-abortion narrative (although Bill Reed did hint at it). Namely: is Buffy pregnant with a human? I think that the pregnancy-horror trope is delicious and, lately, underserved.

In Angel pregnancy horror got a good go: Cordeelia’s demon impregnation, worry if Darla was having evil spawn, and the sort of general grossness that was Cordelia’s gestation of Jasmine. In supernatural worlds you just don’t know what’s in there, or when it might horrifically pop out. I cannot express how disspointed I was that Bella’s pregnancy (although high in ick and ouch factor) resulted in a non-monsterous child!

Pregnancy-horror is a feminist issue to me because its exploring social taboos: Can pregnant women legitimately discuss how creepy it might feel to be imvaded by and unknown being, how gross and distorted their body might feel to them? And can they openly talk about fears that their children will not be little angels from birth? Lately I have felt like a cult of “the child and the stepford mom” has made good stories like “We Need to Talk about Kevin” more controvercial than necessary.

Supernatural stories and worlds are special places where we can explore with more freedom the boundaries and taboos of “real life”. Because they don’t take place in “real life” the assumptions we use to make everyday judgements can turn out to be false. Abortion is still a taboo–but I think we would all agree that the termination of Cordelia’s demon impregnation was warranted even though in the Angel series lots of demons turn out to be average and even good people. These stories just give us something to think about; and I think this thread shows that the Buffy tale is doing just that.

Was Buffy raped? Is it not mysterious that the on time she gets black out drunk she also gets mysteriously pregnant by an unknown father?

In this series Buffy seems to chose the logically wrong thing, only to have it work out in the end because her super hero intuition was at play. Perhaps her conviction to have an abortion is just superhero intuition that the fetus is demon spawn!

The point of this article was about the believability of a character looking at her options in a realistic way to her situation.

It wasn’t about whether any one particular person (you all readers) agree with this in your own personal life. You can agree or disagree with Buffy’s choice, but the point is to see how the story plays out since it’s unknown what will actually happen.

This type of choice is not different from the typical “Save A” or “Save B” scenario. If A, then this happens. If B, something else. It could be should Superman save Lois, or the helicopter? Should Flash save the doomed train, or stop the villain. Should Batman just kill the Joker? How many potential lives will be saved if he just off’s him? But if je comes to that, how will that affect him as a person. We read not just because we agree or disagree, but because we want to see the repercussions of these decisions and how they’ll play out.

I look at the X-Men’s Storm, who to this day is against killing (despite a few writers who seem to not know this, smh) and her killing of Callisto. She liberated a people. She won her team’s survival. In many’s eyes she did a necessary thing. And it wasn’t swept under the rug. Her response was important. How it shaped her over the years was important. There’s a reason why that event has been referenced in-story countless times. There’s a reason why people talk about it as a defining moment for her, and it’s not because we all agree with killing (which like I said, the character herself doesn’t even like killing).

Am I pro choice or pro life? In the context of the point of this article, it doesn’t matter what I am. The point is I’m given an example of a character who made a decision, one that hasnt even been gone through with yet, and to see what becomes of that decision. Won’t be the first time I did or didn’t agree with a character’s choice. Despite any personal belief, it would be sad if there were no further reprocussions after Buffy’s decision was carried out and the story just continued.

Didn’t it just come out that it was a Buffy robot?

Yup, but it’s unknown if the real flesh & blood Buffy is pregnant or not. Some fans have a theory that Buffy was switched with the robot after it was discovered that she was pregnant as someone is trying to stop her from having that abortion. Which in turn could be taken as a metaphor of the government trying to stop women from having abortions. Note once again, that is just a theory and we will have to wait until the next episode to find things out.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives