Living Doll is the twenty-third issue of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight comic book series. It was written by Doug Petrie and illustrated by Georges Jeanty. Joss Whedon is the executive producer.
The spell little Dawnie got whacked with by the Thricewise demon she angered just keeps… evolving. First, she’s a giant; then, she’s a centaur; now, she’s a… what?! Buffy, ever busy saving the world, will finally have to take action regarding her little sis when Dawn’s mysterious disappearance makes it a priority. At least, she better be in some sort of danger, or Buffy’s going to kick her butt for wasting precious time acting like an attention-seeking teen — which is what Dawn is, after all.
A hand selects an exacto knife from a set of various sharp tools. A voice pleads against the use of the knife, while another confirms its use. It is revealed that the knife will be used on a doll like Dawn, by an elderly man in a room full of dolls. Dawn asks how long she is going to be held against her will there, and the man replies that she will remain until she is safe.
Meanwhile at the Slayer Organization command center, Buffy is complaining to Xander about Dawn’s wandering off, whilst they and the Slayers are arming themselves against an oncoming attack from a vampire splinter army lead by one Judas Cradle. Buffy continues to dress for battle as she wonders where the Summers sisters relationship went wrong. As she heads for the door she asks if Xander can form a recon group to find Dawn; Xander replies that he’s already got Andrew tracking Dawn.
Andrew is at Berkeley, posing as a student, talking to another student about an ad for a roommate he saw. Elsewhere, Dawn is trying to sneak out of the room of dolls she is held in when the other dolls ask where she is going. She erroneously assumes that the dolls are being held against their will and tries to convince the other dolls that leaving would be better for them, but they counter that they were made by the elderly man, that he is their father. Dawn argues that she wasn’t made, but rather had a spell cast on her. This does not avail her cause, and the other dolls forcibly restrain her from leaving saying that she “can’t leave. You can never leave.”
Back at the Slayer HQ, Cradle’s army advances to the lawn where it is learned is made up of Cradle’s family and friends, totaling a six man force. The ensuing battle is over quickly. Buffy and Xander continue on their quest to find Dawn and discuss how similar and different the two sisters are in relation to each other and life. As they begin to worry about the safety of Dawn, Xander lets slip that Dawn had slept with Ken’s roommate, Nick. It would seem that thricewises are not particularly known for their powerful magicks, but Kenny seems to be an exception to that norm.
At the doll house the elderly man consoles Dawn that the other dolls just do what they are told. He had them keep her there while he was gone to protect her from breaking herself open and spilling out her soul. He goes on to tell her that since she is a doll, she is now at home with him and the other dolls. At Berkeley, Andrew and his new roommate are discussing magic and its uses. The roommate informs Andrew that he knows some things about magic and that Andrew has been setting totems in the guise of Yoda totem throughout the room. Andrew denies the fact as Willow use the totems to magically teleport all the contents and the occupants of the room to the Slayer HQ. Here it is revealed that the roommate is in fact Ken, the thricewise ex-boyfriend of Dawn. He transforms into the demon side of his persona and flees the presence of the Slayers.
Buffy and Xander continue to track Dawn’s trail through the woods while a woodland creature is following them. Buffy grabs a hold of the creature and tries to ascertain the whereabouts of her sister. It resists and Buffy throws the creature through some branches, where she and Xander hear it crash through a window. They discover a cottage just on the other side of the brush and begin to approach when Xander is struck by a dozen tiny poison tipped arrows and passes out. The resulting noise is heard by the dolls inside where they arm themselves against the intrusion. Dawn, seeing her chance to escape slides under a door only to come face to face with the Puppet Maker. She calls out to Buffy for help and before her sister can come to the rescue, Kenny appears, protecting Buffy from a woodland creature assault and bursting the door of the Puppet Maker’s cottage down.
Upon seeing Kenny, Dawn apologizes to him, which reverses the effects of the spell and Dawn is transformed from a doll back to a human. Buffy confronts the doll maker and threatens him for retaining Dawn. The dolls intervene on “Father”’s behalf, and Buffy decides to leave instead. As the sun rises, Dawn and Kenny talk about what happened between them, and they both apologize for their actions. They make amends and part ways. Dawn decides to reconcile with Buffy, who apologizes for not being there enough for her, and that though she may have a thousand Slayers to lead, she only has one sister she loves.
- Xander mentions Dawn befriending the Forest Souls (Time of Your Life, Part Four).
- Xander points out Buffy’s social circle when she was Dawn’s age (Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 4).
- Xander mentions Buffy’s two deaths ("Prophecy Girl", "The Gift").
- Xander reveals to Buffy the reason behind Dawn’s curse, as he learned in Anywhere but Here.
- Dawn recalls the time Buffy was the only Slayer, previous to the spell in "Chosen".
- Judas Cradle (Only mentioned)
- Rupert Giles (Only mentioned)
- Alexander Harris
- Nick (Only mentioned)
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Dawn Summers
- Joyce Summers (Only mentioned)
Organizations and titles
- United States
- Berkeley, California
- University of California
- Middletown, Connecticut
- Wesleyan University (Only mentioned)
- Berkeley, California
Weapons and objects
- Yoda totem
Rituals and spells
Behind the scenes
- Georges Jeanty’s cover is a reference to Jo Chen’s for comic issue The Long Way Home, Part Four, with Buffy and Dawn trading places.
- Willow's teleportation spell is cast with her saying “Erehavoteg”, which is “get ova here” backwards.
- The forest soul Buffy and Xander encounter is based on the fictional character Jeremy Hillary Boob.
- Living Doll was the fourteenth best selling comic issue in its publishing month, with 58,740 sales in May 2009 at comic specialty stores.
Pop culture references
- Buffy owns DVD of the Veronica Mars television series.
- Xander refers to Dawn as Flicka.
- Xander mentions actor Christian Bale’s movie Rescue Dawn (2006).
- Buffy compares her weapon to fictional character Wolverine.
- Xander mentions Adobe Photoshop graphics editor.
- Ken has a poster of music album The Dark Side of the Moon.
- Dawn mentions the novel "Valley of the Dolls" (1966).
- French: Jolie Poupée (Pretty Doll)
- Italian: Bambola Parlante (Talking Doll)
- Russian: Живая кукла (Living Doll)
- Turkish: Canlı Bebek (Living Doll)
- ↑ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #25: Living Doll". Dark Horse Comics. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
- ↑ "Top 300 Comics Actual--May 2009". ICv2, June 14, 2009. Retrieved April 17, 2018.