So here are my thoughts on The Long Way Home:
A bright new dawn. A brand new beginning. A new chapter in the Buffyverse. The world has changed. Buffy has changed, but she's "still got [her] demons and still got [her] watcher", so things aren't all that different. Or are they? How much has Buffy changed? She's called "ma'am" now, there are two decoys pretending to be Buffy Summers - who is the real Buffy?
Theme of IDENTITY
"What the hell am I doing?" Who is Buffy now? Is she the head of an army or the charismatic leader of a terrorist cell? What does it mean to be a slayer in this bright new dawn?
As Buffy is trying to come to grips with her new role as leader of slayers, she needs to be reminded by Xander to "be [Dawn's] sister", a role she has always been very aware of. She's spent years protecting Dawn and raising her, sacrificed her life for her, but now she's so caught up in being the head honcho of the slayer army.
"You're a big girl now." Buffy has grown up and everything seems so different. She misses her home, she misses her mom, she keeps looking for something to relate to. Where is home now that Sunnydale is gone?
A brave new dawn (the first panel) VS. A beautiful sunset (Twilight's symbol). The contrast of these two symbols made me go back and re-evaluate the first panel. Is it really a brave new dawn? Or are we actually looking at the sun setting? It's all about perspective. Is it the dawn of a new era or the end? Is the sun rising or is twilight falling?
QUESTIONS For the Season
1) Who is Buffy now?
2) Is this the beginning of something or the end?
Theme of IDENTITY
Who are you now, Giles? Giles is another character who's identity is transforming to this new global slayer dynamic.
Giles is the first to introduce this concept for season 8, that slayers don't fight well together. This lesson continues as Buffy takes down her three best fighters without breaking a sweat because they're not working together. Willow continues this line of thought about slayers in Issue 17 stating that slayers don't gain strength from their numbers the way that vampires do.
"Buffy, you are the dark." - Xander
Slayer Identity. Buffy continues to fear the darkness inside of her and how it shapes who she is. She fears the darkness of her slayer side. This continues the question of what does it mean to be a slayer in this new world. Simone Doffler questions this older slayer mentality, asking: "Weapons...how come we have to use all this medieval junk?"
Theme of CHANGE
"The scales have tipped of late." -Giles
Is this for the better?
Flying. Buffy and her elite 3 are flying in a helicoptor during the first scene of Issue 1. Later we see General Voll flying in a helicoptor outside of Sunnydale. We see Twilight's feet floating (Issue 1) and later Willow flying (Issue 2).
Are these two groups comparable?
Buffy and her slayer elite mirrors the Army
Twilight, the end of magic mirrors Willow, the all-about-magic girl
THEME: All Is Not As It Seems
Actions, situations, tricks and traps abound. What you're looking at in the first glance, it's not the real story. There's more underneath the surface.
"You *think* I'm fighting you. I'm just absorbing your mojo." - Willow
"Light show's a distraction." - Willow
"So's the army." - Amy
"We'll not be led like cattle." - Giles
"We're being played, Xander." - Buffy
"You're not as proportionally strong as you are large." - Buffy to Dawn
"I'm too big. I'm useless." - Dawn
Size does not necessarily equate to greater strength.
"[Willow's] stronger than all of us." - Xander
"And therein lies...your downfall." - Warren to Willow
And even when you're strong, your strength can lead to your downfall.
The connection between Buffy and Willow gains a lot of attention.
"If she can't leave then neither can I." - Buffy telling Satsu she won't leave without rescuing Willow
"Did I ever tell you about my best friend? I like to think, in a way, that she's a part of me. That even when she's gone, a part of me is with her. 'Cause it is." - Willow magically connects with Buffy to fight Amy
As Buffy's eyes go dark, it makes me wonder 'Is this connection between Willow and Buffy good?' Buffy and Willow both use their inner darkness to fight for good, but eventually that darkness changes you. Is their connection still healthy?
QUESTIONS for Season 8
What is a slayer? Good? Evil? Are they evil spawn? Are they even human?
What is strength? How is it used? Does the source of strength determine if it can be used for good?