While most of the previous issue was spent trying to start setting up the finale, #27 is the first time we really feel just how close the end of the season actually is. Things are wrapping up and, like every season of this comic so far, are shaping up to the point where it’s doubtful that the status quo will be remotely similar to where it was in the beginning. That impending sense of finality—to a degree, at least—does the issue a lot of good.
Most everything here is done very well. The first, most exciting thing is that Dawn and Xander’s dimension hopping adventure has allowed for the return of a major character that none of the canon comics have yet utilized. And her characterization is exceptional. We pick up with her as if we just saw her yesterday, which is a major testament to Christos Gage’s writing.
Which is why I actually theorize that this isn’t Jonathan, much in the way that D’Hoffryn’s Ghost Anya isn’t actually Anya. Luckily, that’s the only misstep in characterization this issue. D’Hoffryn in particular shines and I really like the angle they took of making him a major villain. He’s someone who’s been left unchecked for so long, despite all of the horrible things he has done and yet, even still, there’s an underlying sense of morality to him. He has an internal code and whatever it is, he sticks to it. That’s endearing. But it’s also cool to see someone like this, who was often played for comic relief, rise to become an actual threat. Because he’s always been evil and he’s never been dealt with. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that Ghost Anya—even with the knowledge that she’s not the real Anya—will aid the gang in figuring out what they need to do in order to bring D’Hoffryn down.
The character stuff between the main Scoobies is typically great. There’s a lot more fighting going on between them, but to be honest it’s kind of refreshing with how well things were going for the first half of the season. Buffy and Willow are as at odds as they’ve ever been. This wasn’t something we saw a lot on the show, but it rose organically in the comics when Buffy destroyed the seed of magic at the end of season eight. All of these quabbles between the main gang lead to an ending for the issue that I think most people saw coming, even if it’s not what a lot of fans will want to hear.
WICKED RATING: [usr 7]