This issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is, like the last, focused primarily on character interaction, which is a little strange considering that the last issue ended with everyone heading out to the big fight. Here, they’re looking for that fight for the bulk of the time until it really gets underway at the end. Part of the crossover event sees the gang split into two teams, where we get a lot of good relationship talk amongst the characters. Some of it is really neat because it centers on characters that have never really gotten the chance to interact before.
A scene between Dawn and Angel is pretty cool to see, in particular. They never interacted on the show but, retroactively, Dawn would have been a major part of the first three seasons where she must have had some kind of interaction with Angel that we never even got to see. It’s a complicated situation, but one that writer Christos Gage handles fairly delicately.Willow and Angel, on sort of the opposite note, used to have an interesting—non-romantic—chemistry in the early seasons of the show that had all but disappeared by the end of his time on the show. So it’s just as nice to see a scene between them. She has some good advice, too, about how to deal with relationships with mortals considering she had just broken up with her immortal snake goddess girlfriend. It’s probably a little unfair to say Angel hasn’t changed much since he got his soul back, though. Yes, there are aspects of his character that will always be the same, but he developed so much on Angel just from the character he had been for three seasons of Buffy.
The most unexpected conversation, though, is the one between Xander and Angel. It really goes to show how much all of these characters have changed, even over the course of the comic series. These two guys hate each other, at least they have in the past. But now there’s an understanding between them. Xander’s had uncontrollable anger he’s trying to treat that gives him a sense of respect for Angel. And Angel now has to deal with Buffy dating probably the last person on Earth he’d like to see her with and that gives him an understanding of how Xander felt during the early years of the series.
But Xander doesn’t have to apologize to Angel for beating him up, especially considering that all of these characters have kicked the crap out of each other at some point or another. Angel had just killed Giles at that time. The mentor and father figure to the entire group. Even if Angel was under the influence of Twilight when he did it, he is still responsible for everything he did. Which, at least, he admits to.
There’s plenty of action in this issue as well, but it almost feels out of place. There’s no real relation between the fighting and the conversation, the way there usually is. Buffy, however, has some truly badass moments both in the fight sequences and in her interactions with the others–particularly Angel. It’s so refreshing to see her talk to him like this for once. And it builds us to the showdown with the demon Archaeus and the fight that I think everyone was probably expecting.
WICKED RATING: 6/10