The Jo Chen cover addresses two of the main themes of The Chain: Identity and the Subjectivity of Reality. Chen gives us a brilliant portrayal of Buffy, except she's pulling off the mask of her face, tirer la coutour, pulling back the curtain to show us what's real. What's real underneath the mask? Who is this girl? Is this Buffy? Is she a good slayer?
The first panel brings us in with the name. The power of that name evokes memories of seven seasons of heroism, human vulnerability and sacrifice. This is Buffy Summers. But wait, what about the mask?
Ah, now we're clued in. This can't be the real Buffy. Buffy can't be dying in the fifth issue of Season 8. So what is the identity of this girl who's masquerading as Buffy Summers? What's real? What's the truth?
"This is a cult, right?" - Decoy Slayer
"Now I won't be the only girl breaking vases!" - Violet
"We're all connected to one another all over the world and through history and make a difference and we're all equal and do for each other." - Decoy Slayer and Giles interchanging
"This is it, this is really it (NOTE: the reality of experiencing it, the connection). We just gotta, we gotta, we gotta...we gotta focus. Adapt. Work together." - Decoy Slayer
"This is how we live. With each other. For each other." - Decoy Slayer
"There is no truth." - Rona
"It's so unfair. It's fascism is what it is." - Decoy Slayer before she's called
"I listen. I don't have a choice." - Decoy Slayer
"Modern women and girls are suffering from this unnamed condition." - Andrew
"Alarming yet fun condition." - Andrew
This condition that nearly 2000 girls had no choice in receiving.
"What do you *think* it is? What do you think is happening to you?" - Rona
"First I'm going to tell you what you probably already know." - Giles
"The name. The power." - Decoy Slayer
"In the moments that matter, even our own names are just sounds people make to tell us apart." - Decoy Slayer
"There's no truth - there's just what you believe." - Decoy Slayer
"The truth? There is no truth. There's only what you believe." - Decoy Slayer
"The slayer. She will truly face the darkness. Not turn and run into the light?" - Slime Demon
So what's it all mean?
Connection of the many, the unity of the line of Slayers goes into making the name. But the name isn't who you are. We are what we do. Action is *who* you are, what you *do* determines your identity. The choices you make to fight, to walk down that dark path. The name isn't who you are, though names do have power. But ultimately names are just noise. Action is REAL and there is no truth except what you believe.
Honorable action comes from self-determined choice, not coercion. And this girl dies not for glory, not for the name. She sacrifices her life to save others. So they may live together, work together, fight another day.
Take action not for what others will think or how they will remember you, but because it is good and right. Because you helped. And take comfort in the knowledge that you did good. Only you know the ultimate truth and value of your life. You are the only full witness to your life's deeds.
Humble sacrifice. That's what makes a hero.
QUESTIONS raised for Season 8
If action determines identity, then who is Buffy in Season 8? A hero? A general? A thief? A queen? A martyr? A tyrant? A terrorist?
What does it mean to be a hero?
What does it mean to be a slayer? Are there different kinds of slayers - the true unnamed hero, the rogue criminal hedonist, the indifferent warrior, the detached "big picture" leader?
Is this nameless decoy slayer masquerading as Buffy more heroic, more true than the real Buffy? Is the facade more of a hero than the reality?
Was the spell to activate all the potentials morally right or was it an abuse of free will?