With Spike and Buffy now happily together, you know things are about to get strange and trouble is round the corner.
This arc firmly puts the spotlight on Spike and Buffy, but the Scooby Gang also have enough material to involve them, whether it is Giles seeing the pros and cons of de-aging or Andrew coming to terms with his new found awareness.
Christos Gage effectively adds to the Buffy Mythos in a big way that elevates it to a new height, going back into the origins of vampires.
Rebekkah Issacs is also on form here – as her detailed artwork really helps sell the story being told.
Spike is rather jumpy about what he saw in his ‘vision’ and Buffy doesn’t help when she mentions Angel losing his soul right after she slept with him – it’s a thin line that vampires with souls straddle.
Getting a call from Downing, he realizes that the dream had some element of truth to it – as he comes face to face with the victims in it.
Spike keeps the dream a secret from Buffy, but turns to Xander and more reluctantly, Giles and Willow – who are all too willing to torture Spike to get results. Spike goes through with it out of love for Buffy. Xander is tasked on the other hand with distracting the Slayer and he decides to call an intervention on a reclusive Andrew.
It was only last issue that Andrew found he is gay, and the shock (not to mention Xander’s excessive awkward support) has kept him an introvert since. It’s only after Buffy forces some sense into Andrew (especially the many times where he and his friends managed to screw up her life – good times) that being gay isn’t being weak or a different person. It’s okay to be different, something Buffy knows far too well.
Giles’, using Spike’s visions, draws Buffy and Xander to a close-by vampire nest – where the recently dead couple attacks them as newly turned vampires. Killing them (in what was obviously a trap)
Giles’ over eagerness to find what’s wrong with Spike results in Buffy walking in on him and Willow torturing the vampire. Spike decides to come clean.
Finding no other way, Giles and Willow entrust Buffy with going into Spike’s mind and finding the source of his mental link with the killings. Once inside, Buffy is confronted by everything – love, hate, fear….but all through it she realizes that Spike truly loves her. Not in a naïve way, but a realistic one.
Going farther back into Spike’s sordid past, she unwillingly gets caught in a whirlwind that goes before Drusilla (who sired Spike), Angelus (who sired Dru), Darla (who sired Angelus) and the Master (who sired Darla) – meeting up with the demon that created the vampire lineage Archaeus. Spike forcibly waking up spares Buffy from getting her head ripped off by the powerful Old One.
A mental link while under the spell informs Buffy where Archaeus is hidden in the real world, but the Scooby Gang proves too underpowered to take down Archeus.
Things take a nasty turn when the Old One uses Spike’s vampiric essence to attack Buffy. After a long battle, Spike is able to push it off and then Willow collapses the building to signal a retreat.
Coming back home, Xander finally confronts the amnesiac Dawn about their relationship, but assures her that he hopes it will come naturally just like the first time. While Spike is forced by Giles to call in the last person he wants to – Angel.
Romance has been a key factor including compatibility. And we saw four people take three different stances throughout these three issues – while Spike and Buffy decided to take a chance, Willow ended hers with Alywth and Xander told Dawn straight what he wanted but made sure not to put pressure on her. The latter two felt a little jarring, given they came out of nowhere and served more as filler for the main arc.
Gage went into some interesting territory here – the Spike/Buffy romance, Spike’s life and insecurities and the vampyr mythos.
He handled all of these aspects particularly well but the jarring effects came in the rest of the cast’s interactions with each other and supporting characters.
Issacs’ art through is a joy to watch. Too often artists try to capture the main live action actors instead of treat these characters as themselves – Issacs definitely knows which is more important.
So, I give this a 8.5 out of 10.
+Some great character moments from Spike and Buffy
+Nice additions to the Buffyverse mythos
-The B-plots didn’t hit their mark