“Do me a favor,” Buffy tells her guest. “Don’t mention this to anyone.”
But this news is just too juicy to shove under the covers, so the secret is out, and so is Buffy: The vampire slayer sleeps with a woman in the next issue of the TV-series-turned-comic book, in stores this week.
“I know you didn’t just … turn gay all of a sudden,” her protégé slayer Satsu says.
“Right. Wait,” Buffy panics. “How do you know that? Did I do something wrong?”
Depends who you ask, but chances are, fans will embrace this turn of events as Buffy doing something right. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was considered groundbreaking for being one of the first network programs to feature a lesbian lead back in 2000, although it wasn’t until the show moved from the WB to UPN that Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara’s (Amber Benson) relationship was portrayed more physically than metaphorically. Now that the show has transitioned to comic book form , Buffy herself is being allowed to experiment in the new story arc, “Wolves at the Gate.”
“I guess the stakes are different in that we have more freedom in comics,” said “Wolves” scribe Drew Goddard, who was a writer for “Buffy” on TV and more recently penned the movie “Cloverfield.” “Even though we’ve still got a ways to go, we’ve made tremendous progress with regard to portrayals of human sexuality in pop culture over the last 10 years or so. So the stage just feels different now. I’m sure people can argue that Willow/Tara broke a lot of ground in that regard, but it’s not like we go into these things saying, ’How can we make a grand political statement here?’ We just try to do what feels right for the characters. The rest takes care of itself.”
So what feels right for Buffy? Ever since the “Season Eight” comics continued the series, our heroine has appeared increasingly isolated, lonely and hungry for some form of connection. She fantasizes about Angel/Spike threesomes, Daniel Craig and Christian Bale, and constantly complains that it’s been awhile since she’s had a relationship, so it’s not surprising that she ends up in bed with the next available partner. But Satsu? Yes, we know she loves Buffy (when true love’s kiss awakened Buffy from a spell early on in the season, Satsu’s cinnamon lip gloss gave her away). But didn’t Buffy already rebuff her in the last issue, during a vampire slay?
“You’re hot, you have great taste, you’re a hell of a slayer, and you smell good,” Buffy told her.
“But you’re not gay,” Satsu responded.
“Not so you’d notice,” Buffy quipped.
Is Buffy using Satsu, the way she used Spike when she knew that he loved her and she just wanted to feel something, anything? Could this be another manipulation, or is it something more? How does this compare?
“Less biting?” Goddard teased. “Whenever you first sleep with someone, it makes the ensuing relationship more complicated. And we’re going to explore those complications to the fullest in the book.”
One of those complications is that everyone knows, since practically every member of the Scoobies stumbles in the bedroom to warn Buffy of an attack, only to find the couple in flagrante.
“The first time you see Buffy,” Goddard said, “your jaw is going to drop.”
Dawn is in shock: “Oh my God! Buffy, what are you doing?” Same for Xander, but perhaps for different reasons: “Oh, merciful Zeus! Oh, my eye. My burning, beautiful burning eye.” Willow, dazed from the attack, is just perplexed: “Why are you naked in bed with Satsu?”
Goddard predicts the public’s reaction to this event in “Buffy” will encompass the same range.
“There’s always a loud fringe element that will have strong opinions on this particular subject,” he said. “But I’m guessing most people’s reactions will mirror Buffy’s friends’ reactions: surprised at first, then intrigued as to what it all means. And then, well, then the dust will settle, and everyone will move on with their lives. I mean, at the end of the day, what’s the big deal? Regardless of who is hopping in bed with whom, there are still vampires to slay and worlds to be saved. It just means there will be more silly conversation to be had while stabbing things.”