The wait is over. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer #16, Angel and Buffy have been reunited, seeing each other for the first time since the end of season eight, and things between them are expectedly awkward. The last time she saw him, he killed her mentor. He made all the moves to make up for that and brought Giles back to life, but that doesn’t undo what he did. And now there’s the fact that Buffy is in a relationship with Spike. Luckily, the entire issue isn’t spent dealing with the awkwardness between the three of them. In fact, instead of roundabout exposition, I was really impressed to see that most of the odd dynamic between Buffy, Angel and Spike was told through the action and not through words.
And this is definitely an action-heavy issue. Buffy and the gang find their apartment under siege from Archaeus’ forces before they can even go out looking for a fight. It’s some of the most impressive action of this season, if only because it really feels like the TV show. Even when the character moments feel like a natural extension of the show, the action really does. This feels like a change for the better in some ways. It might be because, given that the scene is set in an apartment building, it feels more constrained than the bigger action set pieces the comics have been going for lately. Which still have their place, to be sure.
The other characters get their time to shine as well, particularly Xander and Dawn, who are trying their best to be friends and shed all previous romantic connections. It’s a little awkward between them at the moment, but it does show promise for their relationship—however it is defined—moving forward.
Willow and Giles fall by the wayside slightly, but that’s mostly to do with them being at first too involved in the action sequence and then taken out of it when Willow gets poisoned. In general, though, I would like to see a bit more development with her character as we head toward the finale.
Still, the season is getting better and better. Everything is really coming together for these characters and the writing feels confident and natural at this point. The fact that most of them are somewhat happy is enough to make a reader nervous, though, because Joss Whedon is still at the helm of this whole thing. Who knows what could happen. I’d be shocked if Buffy’s relationship with Spike is on the same level at the end of the season as it is right now. But it would be nice for them to have their day in the sun as a happy couple. They’ve both earned it.
It’s nice to see Angel back with the Buffy crowd as well. People are uneasy around him, as they should be, and he definitely feels out of place. He’ll probably only be around for another issue or two, but I look forward to seeing his interactions with the rest of the gang in that time.
This was a very solid issue overall in a comic that is currently getting better and better.
Wicked Rating: 7/10