This issue seems to serve as both a capper to the previous arc and perhaps (based on its “To Be Continued” line) a new beginning. Old fans may recognize a bit of the “yellow crayon” speech, but I dunno, it didn’t quite come through in this iteration. Possibly because, despite the text, there’s less of a feeling that Buffy has known Willow her entire life. It is a unique angle, though: a depowered Slayer talking a super-powered Slayer-Witch combo down a ledge. Either way, there’s resolution to a lot of what’s happened in the previous 11 issues, but, personally, I don’t think that there were 11-issues worth of story before this, with many issues seemingly acting as padding. The Xander/Spike relationship has probably been the most disappointing, with not much coming out of it and with no explanation as to why Spike seems to care about anything regarding the Scoobies at all. If we’re playing up the queer Xander/Spike thing here, perhaps a bit more should be in order, because, right now, Spike seems like the oddity of the group: a vampire but probably with a soul, or maybe just randomly horny for the geek, or has some kinda long game that hasn’t really been hinted at. All that being said, the appearance of another fan-favorite character at the end is sure to get people curious about where all of this is going next. Oh, and I’m still not sure what’s up with Baby Crab, but I’m waiting for that shoe (or 9) to drop soon.
Sarah Gailey keeps the script where it needs to be: between Buffy and Willow. These two lifelong friends have some major differences when it comes to the philosophy of being a Slayer, with Buffy being the pragmatist and Willow being the ultimate idealist. It’s a great exchange, and Gailey handles it all really nicely. My largest issue with this run so far has been how long it’s taken us to get here, with some issues not serving any real purpose at all, since I don’t think that they extend any extra interpretation of the Scoobies’ dynamic.
Hannah Templer’s back on art duties, and this issue is a seamless continuation of the previous one, with Templer’s ability to mix dynamic scenes with emotional beats being front and center. The scenes with Willow using her magic are particularly nifty. While I’m generally a fan of the colorwork, with Valentina Pinto and Raccardo Giardina doing some really nice stuff with setting the atmosphere and all, I’m a little confused as to why Faith’s hair color seems to keep getting lighter. It’s an almost unrecognizable chestnut brown at this point. Other than that, both Pinto and Giardino’s colors really sell the ominous tone of Willow’s magic at work. Finally, Ed Dukeshire’s lettering – while not particularly flashy in this issue – keeps the proceedings nice and neat, easy to read but with plenty of flair to keep things interesting.
Overall, while things seem to have settled down some, we’re far from the status quo. For one, we still have two active Slayers. For another, Willow has seen and tasted some truly dark power, and the jury is still out if she can truly control her own magic now. Oh, and Baby Crab is a seemingly super-powerful crab toddler, so who knows what shenanigans that will lead to.
Creative Team: Sarah Gailey (writer), Hannah Templer (artist), Valentina Pinto, Riccardo Giardina (colorists), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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