I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer #22 went in a different direction than people were expecting, which is a good thing by and large. The previous issue ended with Dylan—a character from Spike’s spinoff graphic novel Into the Light who was introduced as a possible romantic interest—coming to town and wanting to talk to him. A lot of people were afraid that this would destroy Buffy and Spike’s relationship, but that’s not what happened. She isn’t looking to date, she just wants to thank him because her meeting with him allowed her to ultimately grow up as a person. Yet again, this is a character brought into the middle of things not to intentionally stir up trouble, but to make the characters stir up trouble within themselves. What I like is that it doesn’t go in an obvious direction where Buffy is simply jealous of Spike’s female friend. That’s not really it at all, thank God.
Having said that, I definitely don’t think that Buffy and Spike will still be together at the end of the season. It would be nice to be surprised on that front and I think their relationship and their doubts are being handled well, often extremely well. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet Spike’s doubts get the better of him and lead him to be the one who walked away. It would be entirely different than anything we’ve seen between these characters before, but it also wouldn’t be remotely out of character for him. Naturally, the best case scenario would be for these two to once again acknowledge their doubts and fears and make the decision to do their best to overcome them. Unfortunately, they’ve been doing that a lot this season and the doubts still remain, no matter what they do or say.
This issue really belongs to Willow, though, which is an important thing. If anyone has been on the sidelines this season—other than maybe Dawn, who I know they’re saving for something big—it’s her. Willow’s been there to help with the big issues and then kind of disappeared, even though she and Buffy live together. Now we have the big reveal that she’s decided to work with the military to help restore magic and calm things down on a bigger scale than she’d be doing normally. It’s not something that Buffy agrees with at all, to the point that a large focus on the issue is on whether or not they can even continue to be friends after this.
Of course, Willow’s decision to work within the military is just one of many things that have been building over time, with the focus really being on the fact that maybe Willow and Buffy simply became too different as people to have the relationship they had before. All that means, and it’s kind of a sweet thing, is that their friendship has to evolve. It’s not going to be the same as it was, but that’s probably going to make it better overall. I’m very happy to see Buffy and Willow entering this new stage.
We’re winding down on the season now, so I’m a little curious to see what’s going to happen and if all of these characters will build to a complete resolution to their arc. So much is being juggled right now. The band’s all back together, but we’re not seeing them all at once. I have faith in Christos Gage as a writer, but it will be interesting to see how it develops as time is running out.
WICKED RATING: 8/10