Don’t mess with what you don’t understand.
First of all, that is a great cover by Steve Morris!
Dracula’s made off with Vampyr, a book that is regarded as the cornerstone of magic on Earth, to rewrite the rules of magic in his favor.
And Buffy and the Scooby Gang need to stop him before he can do something really harmful.
Gage has a good handle of his Buffyverse mythos, through I think he does bite more off than he can chew sometimes. But overall, he does do a great job making the book’s narrative flow work with the tv series.
And Issacs continues to do good work as usual.
In the aftermath of Dracula’s escape with the book and Xander, the Scooby Gang’s priorities have changed. Killing the captured vampire, they decide to search out the prince of vampires before something bad occurs.
And you can count of Andrew to drop the tension in the room a few notches as he adds ‘going Dark Willow’ to the list of Buffy tropes for an ally gone bad. That was genuinely funny, as was Willow’s reaction to become part of living pop culture.
At a hotel, Dracula shows his true withered self to Xander, and after a debilitating description of his state by his ‘manservant’, he makes Xander write the first rule – restoring Dracula to his past great form.
After that, he decides to make himself lord of all vampires through that has unintended consequences as some rebellious ones try to usurp his position when they come to pay homage.
On the other side, Spike, Buffy and Dawn search high and low for Dracula’s nest with no results. And Spike mentions the fact that all of the vampires are gone.
This failure leads to a Dawn and Buffy moment, as it is revealed that after Dawn was revived at the end of last season, she was emotionally devolved to her original post-key state and is slowly being overwhelmed by everything that’s happened since, including Ma Summers death.
It’s a touching moment (especially as it is regarding what I consider one of the most powerfully tragic ‘normal’ moment in a show about vampires and the supernatural), but given this is the first time we’re hearing of it, it doesn’t strike that cord which it should.
The reversal happens with Willow and Giles, as they both try to adapt to the new world order in different ways. They make excellent flawed companions trying to come to grip with the unusual position they’re in.
And it’s Andrew again who gives the group a lead, by making Spike realize that he’s being forced to call Dracula ‘Lord of Vampires’. Using this, they’re able to reach Hotel Luxe, where Xander and Dracula are staying.
In the hotel, Dracula ponders how to make himself invincible, and this results in a big howler as Xander writes for Dracula to become the most powerful vampire, resulting in Dracula convulsing.
As the Scooby Gang reach Dracula’s room fighting off hordes of devoted vampires, they are met with a ghastly sight. As Xander tries to use his mental link with Dracula to understand what’s going on, they realize their horrible mistake – Xander’s not made Dracula the most powerful vampire, but put the most powerful vampire in Dracula’s body (i.e. the Old One who sired the first vampires)!
As Andrew and Xander attempt to retcon this mistake by crossing it out or negating it with another statement, the transformation completes and the Old One Malokar returns.
With well done references to past arcs in the comics and tv shows, Gage makes a compelling storyline through with some missteps.
The humor is something that has been excellent through, and even the darkest scenarios have their light sides.
Some good character work and a competent artist who brings out the best of the story make this an excellent read.
So, I give it 8.5 out of 10
+Some great humor, especially from Andrew
+The organically built in references
+The excellent artwork (and a great cover to boot!)
+Giles and Willow have some good moments
-Dawn’s character work feels a little underdeveloped