Buffy #38 is one of those issues that will just work better when the arc is finished. Lots of story lines involving numerous characters are plummeting towards a fireworks-packed finale. Almost every character appears for a moment in this issue, and that includes our favorite fruit punch mouth, "The Master." Here’s a quick summary of the issue:
While "Angel" fights a losing battle against the "Twilight" beast, "Buffy" and the gang must team up with The Seed’s protector, who just happens to be "Buffy’s" long dead nemesis, "The Master."
When "Dawn" is injured by attacking demons, "Xander" turns to the military for help, while "Willow" combines forces with "The Master" to protect The Seed. "Buffy" and "Spike" travel to the surface of the Hellmouth to take on the waves of impending demon hordes and instead encounter a possessed "Angel" who delivers some serious punishment to our heroes. A bloody "Buffy" chokes out, "Angel?"
"Twilight," is his only reply.
– Seeing "The Master" joining forces with the Scooby gang is a great move. While there’s not a huge amount of time to focus on it, the dynamic between the characters is great and provides some great moments, both comedic and dramatic.
– "Buffy" and "Giles" have a great scene in this issue, which is something we’ve not seen in some time. Theses characters have really drifted apart over the last season, but, as always, they are able to make things right with each other in only a few words. It’s quite telling that this peace is reached while discussing the ability to eliminate each other for the greater good, showing how far both "Giles" and "Buffy" have come as participants in the good fight. While they’re prepared to do whatever it takes, it’s this very fact over which they can bond. Dying for the greater good is what heroes do.
– "Dawn" in her bra. Nothing wrong there!
– Many fans mentioned a lack of quality in artist Georges Jeanty’s work this issue; however, I thought it was great – especially his depiction of "Angel." Jeanty has really started to nail this character, giving us the ageless David Boreanaz that "Buffy" fans deserve. "Angel" was known as the vamp with the angelic face, and, in Jeanty’s hands, he is.
-Almost anyone could be "the betrayer" at this point. Everyone has a motive at odds with someone else’s. “Xander?” “Willow?” “Angel?” Whedon may have things to answer for at the end of Season Eight, but the tension surrounding what will happen and who will do it is expertly taut!
-This issue seemed confusing for many. Given the complexity of the arc and the way we readers are hanging on every page for clues and answers to the many open story threads, this issue comes off a bit convoluted. Like much of Season Eight, this issue will read better when the entire arc can be read as one, instead of one issue a month.
– "Angel’s" possession by "Twilight" seems somewhat anti-climactic at this stage. "Angelus," the king of alter egos, has already racked "Angel’s" life with all sorts of pain and guilt, so another form of possession doesn’t seem to cut as deep. I hope there’s more to it than what we’ve seen so far.
-Almost anyone could be "the betrayer" as this point. This is going to spell pain for someone, and maybe everyone.
* This issue received a number of mixed reviews and inspired a whole bunch of fan debate online covering a number of different points and perspectives:
– There was a lot of discussion regarding possession and who is possessed. The general conclusion seemed to be that in addition to "Angel" being possessed by "Twilight," and The Seed may have potentially possessed "The Master" and "Willow."
– Much debate was had as to whether "Angel" could be held responsible for his actions while under "Twilight’s" possession. While some fans felt that blaming "Angel" was similar to blaming victims of a scam for being duped, other fans believed that "Angel" had choices that lead to his possession. They felt that he was fully to blame for his actions, whether possessed or not. One particularly interesting online post commented on the similarities between "Angel" and "Caroline" from Dollhouse. Both are victims of circumstance, but they also make conscious decisions to align themselves with a force with questionable intent.
– Readers are anticipating death. This seems like a fair prediction given Whedon’s history with such things. The biggest faction out there seems to be the one predicting "Xander’s" death. Most think it would be too evil to kill off "Dawn" and allow "Xander" to lose his girl again. Apparently, he was almost on the chopping block during Season Seven until Joss changed it to the loss of an eye. Both "Angel" and "Willow" popped up as potential killers of the keeper of the Snoopy dance.
– There were a lot of complaints regarding the art for this issue. Ease up, guys! Jeanty does some of the best art out there! The Buffy comic is lucky to have him!
– "Spike" has come under suspicion by the fan base. Apparently, the fact that he seems to know everything and hasn’t really explained this knowledge is sending up some red flags. It’s also fair to note that many were worried about Captain Peroxide’s fate, given that "Angel" seemed to throw him into the sunlight the last that we saw.
Given all of the speculation, I will throw my hat into the ring and remind readers of Whedon’s habit for defying expectations. If there’s a safe bet, it’s that nothing we predict will come true. The true ending that Whedon has crafted will be something that none of us truly saw coming.
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer