The Chosen One’s right to choose

“Into each generation, a Slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a chosen one.”
Giles, Welcome to the Hellmouth, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season One, Episode One.

Spoiler Alert: Buffy Season Seven, Buffy Season Nine comics

From the beginning Buffy has been a “chosen one”. Now, while Buffy’s story continues in comic form the Chosen One is exercising her right to choose an abortion.

Having been chosen as a slayer rather than making a choice about it is one of the few ways in which Buffy might be considered a weak or passive character. The title of the final episode of the TV show, Chosen, which aired in 2003 reinforced the nature of her calling. But Buffy created a chance to escape the burden of being the only chosen slayer of her generation.[1]

Things can only get better?

Traditionally her only way out would be her own death, which would enable another slayer to be called. Her plan to allow all the potential slayers to be called and to have the strength and skills to fight vampires and demons together enabled her to take control of having been “chosen”. At the time this seemed to me to be the perfect end for the show. As Sunnydale was swallowed into the earth, Buffy looked into a distant future that was open to a much greater personal freedom. Now that she was free of being the only slayer she may not have to spend all her life saving the world.

Missing Buffy on screen? Time to embrace the comics if you haven’t already…

Buffy’s story was revived in 2007 in comics overseen by creator Joss Whedon and published by Dark Horse. Surprisingly for a nerd like me, I’d never read many comics till this happened. The fact that these were official Whedon endorsed BtVS comics and therefore canon meant that I could no longer ignore the comic medium. Many of the comic’s writers worked on the show and have maintained the strong humour and characterisation associated with it. I have to confess to sometimes finding the comic style of storytelling difficult to follow and finding the drawings a bit hit and miss. At times I have scratched my head wondering which character is being represented. But on the whole it was just great to have the story taken up again and kept alive. I was also drawn into reading IDWs Angel comics, which had some great writing but fell short on expectations and unfortunately seemed less connected to their original source materials. Dark Horse is now publishing a series of Angel and Faith comics alongside the BtVS Season Nine comics. So far these have been outstanding. Set in London they include lots of Giles centric material including his Watcher Files.

It took four years for Season Eight to unfold and conclude in comic form, in which Buffy has led a slayer army and defeated an epic villain at a high price. Telling Buffy’s story on page meant writers were free to explore ideas that could not have been possible on screen, but this has been a mixed blessing. Season Eight has been criticised for overblown, complicated plots. I had a problem with how long it took for the story arc to work through, which increased the sense that the plot had well, sort of lost the plot…

Does my plot look too big in this?

I also felt initial unease at the fact that Buffy had not been able to get on with her life as seemed promised at the end of Season Seven. Having a slayer army increased Buffy’s burden rather than eased it. But with the new ninth season, Whedon promised to go back to the roots of the show and deal with Buffy’s day-to-day struggles.

Now Buffy is getting on with her life and realism dictates that this is not always going to be easy. BtVS, and Whedon’s other shows Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse have never dodged tough political and personal debates. Whedon has dealt with issues as diverse as corporate domination, struggles against authoritarian regimes, school shootings, corrupt policing and domestic violence. In having high profile gay characters the shows have rejected homophobia and been attacked by the right.

In the first issues of the Season Nine comics Buffy has been chased for her student debt. But as she is in low wage employment she can’t even begin to pay for her incomplete education. Now Buffy has found herself with a dilemma that many women will be familiar with – an unexpected and unwelcome pregnancy. When this issue is dealt with at all in popular culture the most obvious solution to the problem, abortion, is usually absent or passed over with little serious consideration.

The question for the woman is usually posed as whether to keep the baby or carry it to term and give the child up for adoption (usually to wealthy people who it is assumed would make better parents). See Juno, Glee, Knocked Up and so on. But new writer Andrew Chambliss has Buffy weigh up her options and state her intentions to have an abortion frankly. This is in keeping with Whedon’s original vision to buck the trend of representing women as victims. Refreshingly, though Buffy finds herself in a difficult situation she can take control of it and make a choice.

Whedon has stated,

“A woman’s right to choose is under attack as much as it’s ever been … the thing about Buffy is all she’s going through is what women go through, and what nobody making a speech, holding up a placard, or making a movie is willing to say.”

I only hope that Buffy does not have to wallow in guilt and misery because of making this choice, a scenario that may appease those anti-abortionists who believe women should be made to suffer. The format has changed but Buffy continues to be a bold series.

Text ©Angela S

[1] With the exceptions of course of Kendra and Faith, who existed as slayers at the same time as Buffy because Buffy had drowned and been technically dead for a few minutes before Xander revived her. This led to Kendra being called. After Kendra was murdered by Drusilla, Faith was “chosen” and called as a Slayer.

One thought on “The Chosen One’s right to choose

  1. Pingback: Quick guide to Buffy and Angel comics - Spangles' Place

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