SPOILER WARNING: This interview features extensive discussion of a major plot point from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9” #5.
Buffy Summers, who has for years now fought back vampires and other forces of Hell, stared down an apocalypse or two, led an army of young Slayers and braved the horrors of a minimum-wage food service job, will soon confront a challenge unlike any she’s faced before.
In “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9” #5, written by Andrew Chambliss with art by Karl Moline and executive produced by Joss Whedon, the First Slayer haunts Buffy’s dreams, repeatedly telling her, “You are not the Slayer,” demanding that she consider the significance of her broken scythe in a world without magic. These visions lead to a new quest for one of Buffy’s closest allies, but in a shocking last-page reveal, readers discover that Buffy herself is in for perhaps the most challenging journey of all.
Yes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is pregnant.
CBR News: Scott, something you mentioned in a recent CBR interview was the idea that the different eras of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” have been about the changes people experience at different stages of life — high school, college/early 20s and now mid-twenties or early thirties. There’s a moment in issue #5 where, after Buffy has been told a couple times, “You are not the Slayer,” she’s asked to think about what that means. Is there a sense in which this stage of Buffy’s life — even without the pregnancy — is incompatible with what it has meant, at least historically, to be a Slayer?
Scott Allie: Those lines do connect with the pregnancy, yes. The big question she’ll be wrestling with is how she can move forward in her life and still be the Slayer, now that everything for her and for the world has changed.
In talking through the arc of Season 9 with Joss, what was his (and your) thought behind introducing the pregnancy into Buffy’s life now?
Buffy’s trying to figure out how to take on the responsibilities of adulthood, of real life, in ways other than facing apocalypses and that sort of thing. She’s had huge responsibilities on her shoulders before, and now she’s facing different responsibilities. Mucking around serving coffee is part of the shock of facing real life, but she’s wrestled with crappy, dead-end jobs before. Some readers expressed disappointment when they heard she was gonna be a waitress again, thinking that when we said we’d have her facing the challenges of adulthood, we were simply returning to old plotlines. But this has just been the set-up. She started in the coffee shop, familiar territory, and she’ll push on from there. A San Francisco cafe is not the extent of what we’re exploring with her new, grown-up life.
How does the pregnancy affect how Buffy sees herself and her role?
She’ll be pondering that in upcoming issues. She has some great conversations with some key characters, including Spike, in “Buffy” #6. This has shifted her perspective instantly, of course. In “Buffy” #7, there’s a fight that Spike insists she sit out of, and it does not sit well with her.
Buffy, at this point in Season 9, is estranged to various degrees from her friends and allies. Is this something likely to bring them back to her side in support or cause further divisions?
This will help bring her together with some of her nearest and dearest, for sure, but one of the other big developments in “Buffy” #5 was that Willow left the title for the time being. Not one or two issues. So the friendship that would probably deal best with this is on hold.
Aside from what the pregnancy means to Buffy as a character, what sort of challenges or opportunities does it present for Joss and the other creators from a storytelling standpoint?
Gotta leave that for the upcoming issues…
I think a lot of Buffy fans grew up with these characters, in the sense that Buffy, Willow, and Xander were in high school at or around the same time, then experienced these different life events together (though, on the fans’ side, hopefully without as much mayhem). Do you see Buffy’s pregnancy as giving fans who are now parents another way to relate to the character?
Absolutely. Fans anticipated this, which surprised us — fans were seeing this coming from fairly early on in Season 9 — and the reaction has not been altogether positive, shall we say. I think they need to see what we do with it, and see if it feels honest and relatable. Obviously that’s our hope.
Fans are going to be wondering who the father is, and issue #1 put forth a few candidates. Does Buffy know, at this point?
Spoiler alert — this will be one of the most upsetting aspects of the story, for some readers. Buffy doesn’t know. Some readers will have a hard time with the idea that their hero could have gotten into this situation without knowing who the father is. She got black-out drunk in #1, and it turns out there are significant consequences. If the objection is that this couldn’t or shouldn’t happen to Buffy, it seems to me that that objection comes from the idea that there’s something wrong with women to whom this does happen, that it is something beneath Buffy herself, and the fact that Joss and Sierra [Hahn, editor] and Andrew and I disagree with that is the reason why we think this is a viable storyline for Buffy.
We know, of course, that Nikki Wood, the Slayer immediately preceding Buffy, also had a child. In light of Buffy’s pregnancy, will we be learning more of Nikki’s story?
Next issue spends a lot of time with Nikki’s son Robin, and flashing back extensively to Nikki herself. This was one of our earlier decisions about Season 9, at the writers’ conference a year ago, that we’d bring Nikki and Robin into [the story] to help inform Buffy’s perspective about motherhood. Having Nikki on the cover of the next issue confirmed readers’ suspicion that Buffy would get pregnant, and that she would talk to Robin about it. We could have avoided putting Nikki on the cover, just like we could have avoided putting the hacked-off arm on the “Buffy” #8 cover, but we got tired of trying to keep all the most provocative stuff off covers, and decided that there were some surprises we had to keep for the insides, and some that were worth putting out there.
Anything else you can tell us about what’s coming up for our girl?
She’s making a career change, which I’m happy about. On Free Comic Book Day she gets out of San Francisco for a while. And Xander and Dawn’s subplot will start picking up a bit before “Buffy” #10. Buffy’s clearly having to redefine herself this season, and that’s not an easy thing to do, but she has another twenty issues to do it. This story won’t end where it began.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9” #5 is on sale now.
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