Faith is back! After losing her position as a co-lead when Angel & Faith reverted back to Angel, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to a character I was used to seeing in the spotlight. She hadn’t made an appearance yet in either Season 11 title until popping up halfway through this issue. In general, this feels like the beginning of the climax for this season’s story arc. That’s a little surprising, too, considering the fact that there are only four issues left.

At the beginning, we’ve got Buffy and Willow struggling to come to terms with their loss of power. The focus is a little more heavily geared toward Buffy, which is smart as Willow got a lot of that focus when she went through something similar in season 9. Buffy even goes out and tries to do some good despite her loss of power and, in a neat twist, actually does manage to take the guy down. The problem is that once she gets him on the ground, she can’t stop herself. She realizes she could kill this guy with her bare hands.

That’s something that Buffy has always dealt with. As good as she is, she’s the slayer, and she’s long contemplated how close that is to being a killer. This was a particular focus in the episodes “Bad Girls” and “Dead Things.” In that respect, it’s the perfect time for Faith to make a return to the comics.

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 1.56.13 PMAlso making an important appearance are Riley and his wife, Sam. It’s a relief to know that Riley is still on the side of the angels—so to speak—given that his motivations were very unclear the last time he and Buffy spoke. He’s been working on a larger plan with Buffy and Willow, one that they can’t even tell Xander and Dawn about for fear of endangering them.

Faith, too, has also reached a good point with Riley that allows him not only to trust her enough now to ask for her help, but for her to come when asked as well. As great as these return appearances are, it’s kind of amazing enough just to see Xander and Dawn again after several issues without them. The focus has been on Buffy, Willow and Spike—who doesn’t actually appear in this issue, funny enough—for so long that it’s nice to get the gang back together and watch them finally come up with a plan to bring this whole thing down.

Buffy season 11 #8Even if we, the readers, aren’t quite sure what that is yet. I’m on board. It doesn’t look like the plan will be too effective, though, considering that there are still a few issues left. I’m sold simply on the fact that the comic is returning to form, that even powerless Buffy and Willow are taking matters into their own hands and fighting the good fight, and that Faith is back to lend her help to whatever it is that they’re doing.

This is a strong, tightly plotted issue. Rebekah Isaacs continues to crush the art. As much as it sets up larger stakes and gets the wheels moving in terms of the overall plot, the focus is very clearly on the characters, first and foremost. And that’s what I’ve always loved about Buffy.

WICKED RATING: 8/10