Buffy the Unborn Slayer?

Popular action-drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have left the airwaves in 2003, but the adventure continues in a comic book series produced by original series creator Joss Whedon. This week, the comic caught the attention of USA Today for an upcoming story in which protagonist Buffy Summers finds herself single, jobless, and pregnant after a drunken party she barely remembers. Unwilling to simultaneously deal with both parenthood and monster fighting, she plans to have an abortion.

Whedon explains:

“Buffy was always about the arc of a life, and it wasn’t ever going to be one of those shows where they were perpetually in high school and never asked why,” Whedon says. “It was about change. So there’s never a time when Buffy’s life isn’t relevant.” […]

“It offends me that people who purport to be discussing a decision that is as crucial and painful as any a young woman has to make won’t even say something that they think is going to make some people angry.”

Right off the bat, the story’s premise seems highly suspect: after seven seasons’ worth of fighting evil and having the weight of the world on her shoulders, Buffy still lets her guard down so fully that she can get unknowingly impregnated by strangers? I understand the value of flawed characters who learn through mistakes, but come on. You’d think the life of a superhero would drill a certain sense of responsibility into someone. Even setting aside the morality, aren’t drunken blackouts a prime opportunity for bad guys to attack? If they really wanted to tell a story about unplanned pregnancy, how hard would it have been to, say, give Buffy a genuine romantic interest who bails at the prospect of fatherhood?

Despite Buffy’s definite sounding “I’m going to have an abortion” declaration, there are signs that the story could go either way. On the one hand, Whedon’s talk of abortion being a “painful” decision for young women may be true as far as it goes, but such rhetoric is often code for pro-choicers who really mean it’s too painful a decision for any of us judgmental anti-choice yahoos to intrude on. And while I never watched Buffy myself, I did watch Whedon’s short-lived sci-fi series Firefly, a couple episodes of which indicate Whedon has a rather lax view of sexual mores.

On the other hand, Buffy’s baby isn’t dead yet, and if Comics Alliance’s preview is any indication, our heroine might still change her mind—Buffy is shown having a conversation with Robin Wood (I think; thanks, Wikipedia!), the son of an unwed mother:

BUFFY: I guess it’s obvious what I should do.

ROBIN: I don’t think it is.

BUFFY: What do you mean? You grew up resenting what Nikki did to you. I can’t put a kid through that.

ROBIN: I know. But I’m here because Nikki decided to have me. I think you should consider having the baby.

Lastly, one of Comics Alliance’s commenters points out that the internal rules of the supernatural Buffy universe have preemptively answered the central question of the abortion debate, by establishing that souls and the afterlife do exist. While writers bent on a predetermined outcome can do whatever they want to get there, it’ll be interesting to see whether ideology trumps the foundations of their own story. Will a heroine dedicated to battling the undead end up affirming the value of life, or surrendering to the culture of death?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UYNIIGVR3FL36ZLVEHDSZJR6RI Sam-Dez

    I grew up watching Buffy. I hope she decides to keep the baby and give it up for adoption. Also there ARE many story options you could do with ‘child out there’ scenario.

    • Maidrinrua2001-2003

      You’re right.  Morality aside, a living child is a better source of ongoing storylines than a dead one!

  • Anonymous

    Since there are other slayers now, due to Willow’s spell (season 7), Buffy should be in retirement. That was the whole point of that story arc, was to give Buffy a break, give her some chance at a normal life. Buffy should not get an abortion, she should be free to do what she wants with her life.

    In Angel, Darla gave her life so that Connor can be born. When she staked herself, baby Connor was lying there on the ground separate from her (which showed that he wasn’t a part of her body).

    In Dollhouse, another Joss Whedon show, the character Caroline and her boyfriend Leo found out that the Rossum Corporation did experiments on fetuses. Upon having found some in jars, and an in-utero video surveillance on the computer, Leo asked, “What do they need babies for?” With a disgusted look on her face, Caroline replied, “This is Rossum. They don’t care about souls. Human or animal.”

    Yes, I’m a Joss Whedon fan. Looking back on his shows, I think Joss is intentionally trying to get the discussion out in the open. I haven’t figured out which side he’s on yet. Dollhouse also had some “my body my choice” kind of things going on: people signing away their bodies for five years when they were in a fragile state, having their minds wiped, and then personalities put into them, forced to do jobs for the company and their clients. There were other things, too, but those would be spoilers.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome of this story arc.

    • Buffyfan

       Yes, my first reaction was regarding the Darla/Conner storyline. That actually showed a mother (even if she was a vampire) deciding that the life of her child was more important than hers and she sacrificed herself for it. And the father took care of the baby in the aftermath.

      I also think Dawn’s character was worked into concepts around adaption and is she still Buffy’s little sister if she came from a different place.

      Controversial topics aren’t uncommon in Joss’ works and usually both sides of them are explored in some way or another. Usually people end up gay or dead, but I will be looking forward to where this story goes and hope that the next evolution for Buffy is towards motherhood. I do agree that her behavior is less than exceptional, but she is also a character that has spent her entire life with the safety of the world on her back and she has flaws or cuts lose every once in a while. I don’t think it’s something I’d condemn her over.

      • Anonymous

        Ooh, I didn’t think of the Dawn story line. That one is pretty pro-life. I mean, if she were just a key, Buffy would have just sacrificed her without a care. However, Buffy gave her own life for Dawn, because she is her sister, even if she wasn’t originally.

        I wouldn’t condemn Buffy, because she has gone through a lot. I find it sad that she thinks she has to do such a thing, especially when there are so many girls who can take over for her now.

        Besides, what would be the point of her getting pregnant, only to abort the child? It wouldn’t be conducive to the story. It would be a “WTF?” moment. What would it add? Absolutely nothing, unless they are going to go with Buffy ending up with Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome, in which case she would be too broken up to be slayer. No, there has to be something to this pregnancy. I mean, in many superhero stories (comics/television/movies), women are either stronger when they’re pregnant, or they have kids that are meant to save the world, or something to that effect. Look at Sara Pezzini from Witchblade. Even when giving half of the Blade to Danielle, she was still just as tough, and pretty much indestructible, and then Hope turned out to be one of those “save humanity” kids. Then there’s Sue Storm, who had Franklin, who had his own powers. I know that there are lots more, I just can’t think of them right now.

        In other words, I think that Buffy is a great character, and nothing this deep, and this connected to a character, is ever a throw-away storyline. It would be shoddy writing if it were. I’m not criticizing Buffy, in the least.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000533014784 Jaime Bain Von Rader

    I’m not sure this storyline even matters–no one reads comics anymore! But the fact that it’s been publicized now means people WILL read it just to see what happens…SMH…we should not give this one more moment of our attention.

    • Oedipa

      Gotta agree. This is scraping the bottom of the cultural barrel. And I’m still trying to figure out who Kate Walsh is.

    • Anonymous

      Speak for yourself.

      I have been reading comics since I was a teenager. My brother, many of my cousins, and most of my friends also read and collect comic books and memorabilia. Comic-Con International, the world’s largest gathering of comic book fans, sells out pretty quickly, as do Ape Con, Wonder Con, Anime Expo, etc.

      Don’t be so quick to dismiss comic book fans. We’re around, we just look much more “normal” now. Comics reach a much larger crowd than you know. Heck, most of the movies that are out would not be if it weren’t for comic books, or comic book fans. Most media have comic books attached to them. Even Tori Amos has her own comic book. There is a Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion comic. Comic books are an integral part of the Star Wars continuum. Heroes would never have survived as long as it did, or even had the fans it did, without the comics attached to the franchise. Doctor Who has comics, and not just in DWM. Many Marvel and DC comics have been turned into movies and television series, as have a few Top Cow comics.

      In other words, just because you don’t read comics anymore doesn’t mean that it’s a defunct media. It just means that you’re not paying attention.

  • Jfabiani

    I understand the value of flawed characters who learn through mistakes, but come on.

    The important thing is you’ve found a way to pretend to be superior to women to choose to abort their pregnancies.

    • Guest

      No.  All people are equal, but all choices are not.  Nothing pretentious there.

    • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

      Would you like to provide a substantive counter-argument to my views, or are you just interested in sneering about imagined slights against women?

  • Doug Melville

    Calvin.. is that your name?  Isn’t that a male name?  So why are you commenting on women’s rights? Wise up.

    • Anonymous

      Why are you commenting on it? Doug is a male name.

      Just because someone is male does not mean that abortion doesn’t affect him. There are many men who abortion has greatly affected. In fact, half of the babies that are aborted are male. Women have a right to live, and men have a right to live. Life is a human right, and Calvin has the right to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

      Furthermore, there are many women who have been hurt by abortion. Men are supposed to protect women from being hurt (not that we women can’t protect ourselves, but men are supposed to be there for us, too). In fighting for the right to life, Calvin is defending women, our health and our dignity.

      If only women are supposed to talk about women’s health, then why do men talk about it, sign petitions about it, march for it, and some even force legislation we don’t want about it? Men are allowed an opinion.

    • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

      Let’s see….because I have the capacity for to process information, because I have freedom of speech, because gender has no bearing on facts or morality, and because the baby Buffy’s thinking of killing could be a girl, too.

      There’s something deeply sick about people who want to silence opinions on the basis of sex, race, or religion.

  • Mike

    Why don’t you leave the storytelling to storytellers.

  • Hhhhhh

    I’m ashamed to know that you are from Fond du Lac, where I live. You’ve written a lot of wacko crap before this, and I’m sure you’ll continue to do so, but you’re a joke.

    • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

      If my writings truly are “shameful,” “crap,” or I’m a “joke,” then you’re welcome to explain how.

  • Robyn

    I honestly do not understand Mr. Freiberger and people like him who feel an ignorant pride and a false moral superiority to label himself a “judgmental anti-choice yahoos”.

    Mr.Freiberger appears to lack the empathy and the self-awareness to understand that some decisions are not his to make. 

    If a woman is to be considered a person, then this crossroads is hers and hers alone. For good or ill, for right or wrong.  Hers.

    • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

      I can only assume that you have no substantive counter-arguments to my opinions, because if you did you’d have used them by now….

  • 12345

    If you’re going to attack people based on their ‘suspect’ storytelling capabilities/character building, you really should bother to actually familiarize yourself with even the slightest bit of the story/character in question. Buffy was never a paragon of perfect decision making – having made all kinds of mistakes big and small throughout the series, including getting caught partying by monsters – and this whole thing is taking place in a storyline where magic has been completely removed from the world, so Buffy doesn’t necessarily have to be on guard 24/7 anymore anyway. More importantly, Joss Whedon has already revealed that there was more to the party than meets the eye, and that the storyline will inevitably involve the supernatural (because it is Buffy, after all), so it’s pretty stupid to just label it bad storytelling when you don’t even know the ending yet.

    • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

      There’s quite a gulf between “imperfect” decision making, and getting knocked up by a complete stranger without your knowledge, no? Now, maybe there is some supernatural explanation that mitigates Buffy’s culpability, but until it’s revealed, there’s nothing wrong with evaluating based on what the writers themselves put out. Besides, in the article I do point out the fact that we don’t know the ending, and therefore reserve final judgement.

      • 12345

        <>

        No. The imperfect decision making is still very much in the same vein as it always was with Buffy. Trying to be ‘normal’ by temporarily ignoring the heavy responsibility she has and not paying enough attention to the possible consequences of what she’s doing simply because it’s ‘normal’ teen stuff and therefore ‘harmless’. On the show she not only ditched slaying for parties, she also drank herself to unconsciousness once and made several questionable or ultimately unlucky choices regarding the men she dated.

        This could have believably happened on the show if the writers had chosen to make it happen, it just would’ve been slightly more unlikely in those scenarios than in this one, as, on the show, she never really engaged in these things in combination.