Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 10, Issue 18
“Old Demons” conclusion
Writer: Christos Gage, Artwork: Rebekah Isaacs, Coloring: Dan Jackson, Lettering: Richard Starkings & [Comicraft’s] Jimmy Betancourt,
Cover: Steve Morris
Blurb: Just as Buffy and the gang were wading through their individual breakups and hookups, a new Big Bad named Archaeus came to light, and he’s someone they can’t fight alone. So, however awkward it may be - now that Buffy and Spike are officially an item - Buffy’s ex, Angel, has been called in to help.
Page 01: In an old ship waiting to be broken down into salvage, Archaeus confronts the Slayer and her team. But just as Buffy thought that he’d made a huge mistake by drawing them all right to him, she finds out that actually the mistake was hers.
Archaeus led them through a maze to reach him, which gave Angel and Spike time to dwell on their mutual distrust and resentments and opened Angel to being mind controlled by his great-great-great-whatever-many-greats Grandfather.
Angel has turned on Spike by skewering him through the chest with a broadsword. And Spike, not exactly in his own right mind, is more than happy that he did.
Page 02: As Buffy tries to intervene, Willow has been magical blasted and is down. Meanwhile, Dawn and Xan are trying to guard Rupert and Andrew as they work on trying to get access to Archaeus’ portal opening Object du McGuffin.
Buffy dashes toward Angel and Spike to get in between their brawl, but Archaeus cuts off her path by trying to skewer her. He blabs on about his plan to give time for his vampires to fester in their mutual dislike, making it easier to compel them past their souls’ influences. By pushing them to do what they want to anyway, he’s managed to distract them from his now killing her.
Commentary: Yeah… so… basically ARCHAEUS, we didn’t actually need you to gab all about it. We were there with you already, but thanks… Christos… Thanks anyway, we got it.
Page 03: Over with the rest of our gang, Dawn is using her crossbow and Xan is trying to stake himself some vampires, but these are the new shape shifting breed and they’re having a hard time just holding their own.
Giles, supposed to be anti-magicking the portal artifact is stuck trying to save his own neck. Andrew meanwhile is using his magical scanning goggles to investigate the shielding protecting said portal creator.
Dawn offers that the team is falling apart on them….
Page 04: Buffy shouts for Spike and Angel to concentrate on killing the bad guy. Spike shouts back that Angel’s the one messing everything up.
In the meantime, Buffy’s momentary distraction costs her as she slapped to the ground. While she’s trying to shake off a stunning blow, Archaeus tells her that she should’ve learned the lesson of her earlier sisters by not getting emotionally attached.
But behind him, Willow has recovered just enough to have Buffy’s back. She lashes out with lighting at the Arch-Demon.
Page 05: Willow, as is her habit, pushes herself too far, too soon however. She’s left dizzy by the spellworks. This allows Archaeus to send his skewering extensions at her with a command for her to die.
Thankfully, while Willow was distracting him, Buffy was able to recover and it’s her turn to have Will’s back. She tackles her out of the way.
They discuss their predicament, as Archaeus throws some crates at them. Willow offers that the two of them aren’t going to be enough to get everyone out alive.
Commentary: I’m loving the action-oriented artwork here and I like that mention is being made of the connection between Willow and Buffy. After - generally - Season 6 through Season 9, it’s fantastic to see these two so firmly and unabashedly on one another’s side again. And these are some well done battle scenes.
Page 06: Buffy shouts to Spike to stop enjoying pummeling Angel and do something useful to help him snap out of it. Spike figures out that Angel’s main motivations are Catholic guilt and his daddy issues.
He shouts at Angel for being pathetic and weak and still trying to earn daddy’s approval by dancing on the old man’s puppet strings.
Page 07: Archaeus notices Angel slipping from his control almost instantly. He rages at him to stop being useless and stupid and follow his commands.
Which is exactly the wrong tactic. It just causes Liam to see his disapproving bully of a father and allows him to resist even stronger, breaking the Arch-Demon’s grip on him.
He launches himself at Archaeus.
Page 08: Angel apologizes to Spike, which is blown off for the moment.
Buffy, seeing Angel back on the right side, sends Willow off to work on the artifact’s protections. Will’s isn’t sure about leaving her, but Buffy, Angel and Spike stand together.
Page 09: Archaeus has some tough guy talk about the arrogance of his attackers, but Buffy shows him that its not arrogance, just competence.
Page 10: Willow joins Andrew at the doohickey, while Xan, Dawn and Giles continue holding off Archaeus’ minion vampires.
Commentary: And, I do like the way that the teamwork is happening with our group. I’m still a bit… annoyed, I guess - just a little bit still… that Angel has once again been played as the unreliable one who gets himself mind controlled but it looks like we’re working on repairing things between Team Buffy and Angel after that Twit-Light debacle so I can live with it.
Page 11: With our battling trio, Angel has leapt up onto Archaeus’ back and used his sword blade to slice the Demon’s throat. But Archaeus has moved beyond simple blood.
From his neck would pours a black, sticky goop which he can control. He uses tendrils of it to dangle Angel by his ankles, while he’s wrapping Buffy’s arms to her side so she’ll stop swinging that Scythe at him.
Angel yells to Willow that now would be a good time for her to finish up, while The Slayer complains that being wrapped up in Archaeus’ bodily excretions is gross.
In the meantime, Spike finds himself shish-kabobbed with two of Archaeus’ bone protrusions.
Commentary: That was a neat panel, and I like that Archaeus really does seem to be immune to the usual fatal strikes of other vampires/demons. It’s another way of showing just how old he is. The look on Buffy’s face and her line delivery is pretty amusing, too.
Page 12: Willow shouts back that she’s trying, but Andrew calls to Buffy that they’re down to two layers of shielding but their altering vibrational frequency as Wills is working on defeating them.
Buffy tells Angel and Spike that she can work through two layers. They give her a mutual boost and toss her across the room, where she lines up the Scythe….
Page 13: Her magically charged weapon cuts through the layers of mystical shielding surrounding the artifact, and keeps going, smashing the coffer into pieces with a bright flash of light.
Page 14: Andrew is temporarily blinded, but Buffy stakes a vampire about to prey on him. Angel offers that things often turn bad when he asks, but “did we win?”. The answer is a hesitant yes.
Archaeus took the distraction of the loss of the portal coffer to slip away, leaving his minions to get dusted. Giles looks for their object, but Willow offers that she thinks it probably vaporized by that magical blast. She can feel it’s energy dissipated throughout the room.
She offers that it probably can’t hurt anyone now, anyway. But we can see a chunk of the thing being carried away, even as she says so.
Page 15: Sometime later, everyone is standing around with frowns. The cause is D’Hoffryn. He berates them all for standing around congratulating each other while the pieces of the Restless Door were stolen right out from under them.
He warns that his sources tell him the pieces of the artifact have been delivered to The Mistress, The Soul Glutton and Sculptor’s cabal. He shouts that after all of their work with the Mystic Book to make Earth safer, they’re blundering has now made things more dangerous again.
Angel side-talks to Buffy to ask who this guy is anyway. Buffy offers D’Hoffryn’s new role as leader of a mystic council over Earth. She also offers that he tends to be a yeller.
Commentary: I’m still a bit undecided on this whole Mystic Council thing, and especially D’Hoffryn being the one to lead the charge against dimensional intrusions by demon kind. It feels weird for him to be the one in this position to me, and I can’t decide if I’m on board with it, or if it doesn’t quite make sense.
We have no idea whether he’s still running the Vengeance Demon contingent, so that is part of the confusion. I’d like to see confirmation that those Ladies of Revenge lost their powers when The Seed was shattered and didn’t get them back with the New Seed’s presence and I’d like at least a hand wave explanation as to why D’Hoffryn isn’t rebuilding his corps, instead of supporting Buffy’s efforts. His continued inclusion on the side of the mostly-good guys is a bit half-baked. Even just his complaining loudly about how he can’t focus on his own goals because he’s so busy worrying about Old Ones breaking through because of Team Scooby’s incompetence would be enough for me, but I want to actual hear him rant about it, rather than having to fanwank it.
Page 16: Xander brings up the Book to write that the door just won’t work on Earth anymore, but Giles points out that the Restless Door is a non-native artifact on Earth. They have no claims over it, and so can’t simply banish its power.
D’Hoffryn gets to thinking that maybe there are ways to mitigate its dangers however. He also says that ultimately though, they must find retrieve and destroy the pieces before the Demon Lord Cabal uses them to draw all manner of horrors to Earth to distract them.
Angel offers that he’s got a network of underworld contacts and will put out feelers when he returns to London.
Page 17: As everyone separates to get back to their other lives until they can find Archaeus or the Cabal, Xan asks Angel if they’re okay. Angel mentions that Xan never liked him anyway, so why should he care?
Xander offers it’s part of this therapy… and besides - looking at Buffy with Spike across the room - he mentions that he and Angel have more in common than he ever thought before.
Commentary: *Sigh* Yes, Angel has that whole “never getting over Buffy” thing and Xander feels the same way for Spike… OH, Did I say that out loud?
Page 18: Angel offers to Xander that they’re fine. In the meantime, Willow has been texting with Kennedy, and has secured Deepscan’s corporate jet for Angel’s trip back to England. She offers whenever he’s ready.
Angel goes over and tells Buffy and Spike that he’s heading out and Spike offers to give them a moment. But Angel actually wants to talk to Spike.
Buffy warns there will be no fighting.
Page 19: Angel and Spike manage to shake hands, with Angel offering that as long as he treats Buffy like he cares a lot about her, they’ll be good.
The moment he hurts her though… Spike offers that he’ll hold him to that.
Commentary: Okay. Okay. We all know that ultimately Buffy and Spike won’t work out. It’s a Joss Whedonverse thingie that nobody can be happy because it’s boring. Having said that, I’m really hoping that this is a sign of things to come over the next year or so anyway with the Bangel being put to rest. I’ve mentioned over and over how tired I am with the push-and-pull of the Bangel vs. Spuffy thing, so I’m relieved to see things kind of put on the back burner this way.
And if Spuffy works out, fine. If it doesn’t, fine. Just so long as we’re not going to replay this fight anymore, I’m good either way.
Page 20: Next, Buffy and Angel have to have their awkward moment. Buffy wonders if they can really be part of each other’s lives again and he offers he’d be hurt if they couldn’t.
Angel offers the “if you’re happy” answer. He can live with it if he has to.
Page 21: Buffy kisses him on the cheek as he heads out the door with Willow.
In the hallway, Willow offers it was big of him to do that for her but Angel denies it was a big thing. He tells Willow that Buffy and Spike won’t last.
Page 22: Willow huffs that if Angel was thinking about undermining their relationship just when Buffy is getting happy again… but that isn’t what Angel is thinking. He refers Willow back to her point about mortals and immortals trying to connect.
He offers that she was right, they don’t really change through the ages and that Spike is still Spike with or without a soul. He tells her that eventually he’ll figure out that Buffy can’t fix all of his problems with himself and it’ll drive him into self-pity. Then comes the sabotaging of the relationship in order to confirm what he thinks about himself to begin with.
He offers he knows it sounds harsh, and he’s not denying that some selfish part of him would like to see Spike crash and burn, but Angel’s been alive a long time. He’s seen firsthand that usually it’s the happiness that always dies….
The Good: I had a lot of fun with the entire battle sequence with Archaeus, including the Spike vs. Angel grapple.
I loved especially the Willow/Buffy team-up when the vampires were too busy fighting amongst themselves to help.
I found it amusing how we went from the “We Won, Yay!” to a smash cut of D’Hoffryn bitching and moaning.
I’m also generally onboard with the way that we left things with Angel not no Team Spuffy, but willing to overlook it and the way that he warns Willow that it can’t last exactly because of the things she already observed for herself.
The Bad: Nothing to place here.
Other Thoughts: Okay, that “daddy issues” part of the argument between Spike and Angel and how it instantly saves Angel from Archaeus’ grasp was a bit… abrupt. And kind of lame.
I don’t know - is this inconclusive ending hinting that we’ve got another crossover coming up when it’s time to defeat Archaeus for good? Maybe a visit from San Fran over to London to deal with Drusilla and Archaeus there?
The Score: It was decently written, and I had fun with the battle scenes but some of the interpersonal stuff fell a bit flat for me. This is especially true of Angel and Spike where I think a bit more animosity still being evident would’ve been more likely. But this was an alright crossover:
3.50 out of 5 stars
Next Up: SPN’s “The Benders”.