For all of the issues of Season Eight that I have praised, this one is one of the best! Season Eight has always forced Whedon and crew to constantly maintain a shaky balance between Buffy’s specific “flavor” and the enormous possibilities of the comic book medium. This issue is perfectly balanced with a number of epic events while still staying true to the characters and tone of the show. This is a sneak peak of how the perfect Buffy film would feel. Every character shines at least a bit, and while we can be happy for some small moments, the thrilling and dreadful feeling that tragedy is just around the corner remains constant. Every good Whedon fan knows that no one stays happy for too long, since life is pain in the Whedonverse.
This issue also builds its strength in the fact that things are finally coming together. We’re beginning to understand some of what’s happening with regard to “Twilight" and that helps a great deal. Here’s a quick summary:
”Buffy,” “Spike,” and the rest of the Scoobies return to Sunnydale in search of The Seed of Wonder, the equivalent of the source of all magic on Earth. Determined to keep the demons assaulting Earth away from The Seed and protect her dimension, “Buffy” must first take on The Seed’s protector: “The Master!”
Meanwhile, “Angel” seeks to rectify the error of his ways as “Twilight” by evening the odds in the global slayer/demon war going on. After he destroys a number of enormous demonic opponents, he is confronted by a winged lion-like creature. It is the same presence that spoke to “Angel” as a dog in Buffy #36, and it refers to “Angel” as father!
-”Spike” is excellent again! I may have a soft spot for this character, but he has a number of good moments with “Buffy” in this issue, and I absolutely want to see a live-action version of “Spike” ordering around his crew of bugs! There’s also a bit of hot and sweaty “Spuffy” action in here that’s just as good as “Angel” and “Buffy’s” flying horizontal mambo!
-The Fray ending is here! I always assumed that this was where Joss was heading, and it was nearly confirmed in this issue. “Twilight” has always been waging a war against magic, but “Willow” has a scene with her demon guide “Aluwyn” in this issue which pretty much spells out how the Fray universe will come into being. Apparently, vaguely-magically beings (slayers, vampires, witches, etc.) will be trapped on Earth and will slowly dwindle. I’m guessing that magic would slowly diffuse, slayers would no longer be called, and vampires would have to keep a low profile to keep from being totally eliminated.
-I laughed out loud when a flying “Buffy,” with “Spike” holding on for dear life, breaks her inner monologue about the war “ending here” to think, “’Spike’s’ totally touching my butt.” Brilliant!
-While I don’t have any real complaints for this issue, and I really enjoyed the reappearance of “The Master,” we have yet to get an explanation as to why he’s alive and why he’s the protector of The Seed. It seems a little random, but I’m sure that an explanation is on the way in the next issue.
-Again, this is more of a worry than something bad, but I have some serious concerns about “Angel.” He’s trying so hard to help right his wrongs as “Twilight,” but we still don’t know what’s in store for him. No one, aside from “Buffy,” seems to have any real sympathy for him. I’m betting it’s not a good thing, when a former dog shows up as a winged lion with a flaming head and calls you daddy. Just saying…
-While many have guessed what the winged lion is, we have seen it before in Buffy #6 as “Buffy” describes a dream to “Xander.”
Fan reaction has been unusually positive to this issue! While both Comic Book Resources and IGN gave the comic mediocre reviews, sighting muddled complexity as their biggest complaint, the buzz on fan sites and message boards has been mostly cheers. Here are some of the more interesting speculations being typed around the web:
– In general, people are expecting bad things. The buzz is that there is doom in the future for “Dawn” and “Xander.” There also seems to be speculation that “Giles” and “Faith” are discussing getting rid of “Buffy” in their short conversation.
– “Spike’s” lack of a soul in the IDW universe keeps popping up, too. While I don’t think that IDW and Dark Horse have integrated their stories that much, it is interesting to think about the possibility that “Spike” will be the one who ends up being the "ultimate betrayal."
– Apparently, the comic has gotten a few people to renounce their “Kennedy”-hate. Having always enjoyed “Kennedy,” I approve.
We’ll have to check back next month to see if Whedon and Allie can keep up the winning streak.
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer