Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #20 is by and large devoted to Buffy and Spike getting over a very large element of their shared past that has affected and even hindered aspects of their current romantic relationship. The incident, of course, is Spike’s attempted rape of Buffy near the end of the show’s sixth season. Now, this has been addressed previously in season ten when the gang returned to Sunnydale, which brought back old memories for everyone. Spike gave a very heartfelt apology for his pre-soul behavior and that event in particular. Since then, it’s come up a couple more times and he’s kept apologizing.

This issue is almost devoted to it, which had me rolling my eyes, not because it’s not an important topic but because it’s something that has come up so often already. Once the issue got rolling, however, I immediately locked into what they were trying to do with it. I got why it was coming up again and why it was coming up now. Issue #20 is not so much about what happened as it is about how Buffy and Spike have respectively chosen to deal with it. Everything is examined, all the cards have been left on the table.

There is of course a main storyline as well, but like the best classic Buffy stories it taps into the overall theme of the story in a not so subtle way. More than many of the comics in the past, I find myself actually needing to call this one an episode. Of the season 10 standalone issues that have been devoted primarily to the Buffy/Spike relationship—and there have been more than a few—this is the best.

buffy #16Hopefully, this will remind everyone of why they love Buffy as a character in the first place. It certainly reminded me. She spends the bulk of the issue dealing with a survivor and respecting everything that woman has gone through, thinking about her own experiences and how to put the past behind her at the same time. The potential for Buffy and Spike’s relationship beyond their shared past lies in communication, as Buffy demonstrates here.

He’s been doing nothing but apologizing for it, which at a certain point is not what she needs. So she tells him exactly what she needs from him, exactly how she feels about things and what they need to do in order to move on. And Spike hears every word of it, always being the one to accommodate whatever needs she has. The moment between them at the end is maybe the warmest and most genuine between the two of them out of this entire season.

They aren’t the only characters in the issue, of course. Xander, Giles and Dowling take care of an exorcism while Dowling’s usual consultant—Spike—is busy. The reveal at the beginning that Anya’s ghost is an actual manifestation and not simply a figment of Xander’s imagination only leads to a huge bomb drop that will make things much more problematic for Xander—and probably everyone else, too—moving forward.

All in all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #20 is definitely worth checking out. It’s one of the best issues of the entire season and certainly makes me excited at the prospect of what’s still to come.

WICKED RATING: 8/10