Writer: Jordie Bellaire, Artwork: David López & Raúl Angulo, Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Marc Aspinall
Page 01: We open with Buffy and Xander at the SHS Halloween party, where nobody can tell that Buffy is supposed to be dressed up as a bat. Xan is in good spirits following his taking on part of Willow's soul.
Willow is not in attendance, claiming to Xan that she had heavy studying to do.
[Rose is absent again, because her being introduced has been pointless.]
Page 02: She complains that she's only at the party because Giles ordered her to, in case the students get menaced by some supernatural baddie. Xan brings up the rumor that Halloween is strictly quiet for the monsters [which - shouldn't he somehow sense all that now, since he'd be impacted presumably by whatever supernatural law is in effect], but Buffy clarifies it's only for one night -- October 28th.
He smilingly points out that's a bummer for her.
Commentary: I'm not sure if it's deliberate writing, but Xander does seem way too peppy since his re-souling, and nobody else seems to notice it. It'd be interesting if this was a symptom of something deeper going on with him due to the supernatural shenanigans he's heavily impacted by.
It'd be neat if Willow or *gasp* Rose mentioned to Buffy on the sly how much more like Willow Xander has been acting, and how dour Willow's been. SOMEBODY should be showing more worry about the consequences than we've seen!
Page 03: Meanwhile, Rupert and Jenny are attending a gathering and special exhibit that Joyce curated at the museum. Giles is like a kid in a candy store with all of the funerary relics about, which he has a special interest in.
Jenny good-naturedly ribs him about it.
Commentary: I still strenuously object to the way their relationship was just dumped in. And since Ms. Calendar never made it to this stage with my Rupert, she's basically a new character. We really should've gotten the cute-scenes of them getting to this point.
Page 04: Giles and Jenny meet Joyce and Eric, where they engage in small talk. Mostly about Buffy's headstrong-ness.
Page 05: Joyce shows Rupert around to some of the more interesting materials she gathered for the Egyptian portion of the exhibit, and on the wall unnoticed, is the all-important ceremonial dagger of interest to Drusilla.
Page 06: Back at the party, Buffy is sitting alone on the bleachers. She spots Robin having a great time dancing with somebody else. They have an awkward moment of eye-meet, but then he goes back to dancing wildly with his date.
She's less than okay with it.
Commentary: And this is a bit weird, too. Wasn't Robin supposed to be getting nice and close to Buffy as part of the super-secret Watchers Council operation. Now that he's texted that he's in to the Slayer's sanctum, it seems bizarre that this wouldn't be followed up on, here.
Page 07: Buffy's joined by a stranger in a demon mask. The stranger that Xander pointed out was noticing her earlier, but which she had blown off.
He doesn't say a word, just sitting with her.
Commentary: I wanted it to be Jonathan, but he's too tall. I believe this will be Angel, in Sunnydale undercover for the big Hellmouth plot-arc.
Why he's coming across like a mute creeper, I can't explain.
Page 08: Demon-mask guy finally does talk to her, about her seeming put out by the guy on the dance floor dancing with somebody else. She points out that it isn't really his business, but she doesn't have time to date, anyway. She complains further that she doesn't have time to do anything she wants.
He points out that she came there to have fun, and should be with friends, but she counters that she was forced to appear by the librarian. That gets an, "Oh"....
He tells Buffy that she should make time to think about something she wants to do, and then to just do it.
He also points out that nobody can tell her costume is a bat because she made her costume with a long tail, which bats don't have.
He wanders back off, with Buffy hating Halloween.
Commentary: Okay. This was a weird conversation that seemingly led nowhere. If it was Angel, I can seem him feeling her out by engaging in awkward small talk, trying to see what this Slayer is all about before he starts laying on the heavy danger talk.
But the two-way was still awkwardly presented. And if this isn't Angel, then I have no idea what to think about this page.
Page 09: Jenny finally sees something that sparks her interest: That Egyptian dagger. She excitedly rushes over to point out how ornate its handle carving is, only for Giles to get gobsmacked. He immediately recognizes it as The Key to the Hellmouth!
Jenny tries to point out how ridiculous that would be for it to so happen to be, but Giles is adamant that if Dru realizes it's here, they're all in horrible danger.
Speaking of which....
Page 10: Into the exhibit, comes sweeping Dru. And she's not even trying to be subtle - having already vamped-out. And she's already managed to kill somebody.
Along with her is a retinue of goons, and her paramour.
Page 11: She grabs random and asks who he thinks all of the stolen loot being displayed actually belongs to. He stutters out 'The Egyptians?', which leads to her raucous laughter.
Dru informs the attendees that the objects were meant for gods, and she is there to collect what should be hers.
Commentary: I always had fun with original Dru, but I do like seeing her as here: Powerful, in charge, and knowing exactly what she wants and how to get it.
This is the one change to the original characters that I fully support.
Page 12: Drusilla demands to know who the museum curator is, and when she doesn't get an immediate response, threatens to kill patrons until the party steps forward. To save everyone else, Joyce volunteers that she's the one Dru is looking for.
Drusilla demands to know where the Dagger of Sekhmet is located, and Joyce leads her to the wall where she had it hung. But, unknown to her, Giles has already slipped it off of the wall and secreted it inside his suit jacket.
Page 13: Joyce is flabbergasted to find the dagger missing, and Drusilla is mightily disappointed. She's annoyed enough to tell Joyce that if she doesn't figure out where the dagger went to in the next minute, she or her lover will watch the other one die!
Page 14: While Joyce is being threatened for the first time by Sunnyhell's darker aspects, Jenny is staring pointedly at Rupert.
Joyce tells her that someone must've taken it from the wall, but this answer isn't good enough. Drusilla tells William that she's far too upset now to eat, and asks him to choose one of them to bite-n-drain.
Spike chooses Joyce [which seems... uh... counterintuitive, but okay]. Jenny continues to stare angrily at Giles for not doing anything to save Buffy's mother.
Spike grabs Joyce and by the angle, it appears he's planning on violently ripping out her trachea. She seems shockingly resigned to standing there and letting herself get killed.
But from off-panel, someone shouts that they took the dagger, saving her at the last moment.
Page 15: It's Jenny.
She admits that they took the dagger, and when Dru marches over, she immediately recognizes Rupert as a Watcher. She stares at Giles with her hand out for the dagger he now takes from his jacket.
Drusilla tells him he chose correctly in allowing a murder to protect the dagger from her grasp, but he made a mistake by keeping company who is weak.
Commentary: I loved that line. I have mixed feelings about Giles' allowing Joyce to be killed, but I think it does reflect on the changes to his character. We've seen him more by-the-book in this reality, and with that characterization I can buy his allowing half the room to be killed off while he searches for a way out.
But. He wasn't really appearing to be looking for an escape, so I don't understand the plan. He wasn't really in a position to keep the dagger out of Drusilla's hands, so unless he was planning on a fight, allowing Joyce and how-many-others (Jenny?) to die wouldn't accomplish anything.
In this case, Jenny made the right call, even though there is a far greater danger in Dru having the dagger, simply because there wasn't a way to keep her from getting it, anyway.
Page 16 & 17: Drusilla, now happy, tells Giles that he should find a stronger partner for himself. She revels a bit in having the key to the Hellmouth in her hands, and tells Spike that now they'll find the entrance and then...
... SHE STABS HIM THROUGH WITH THE DAGGER!!
Page 18: Elsewhere, the Hellmouth seal starting to burn with fire. The Seal of Danzalthar glows.
Page 19: At the high school, the dance erupts in chaos as students flee an earthquake shaking the building.
Page 20: As Buffy makes sure everyone gets out of the school safely gym safely, the floor cracks open and fire erupts from the fissure.
Buffy is taken aback, as she's seen this happen before in a dream. Xander tells her he's also seen this... in a vision from his connection with Drusilla.
Page 21: Across Sunnydale, blackbirds take to the wing. Flying over a room with a green light in the window.
Someone with black eyes cries in the dim lighting.
Page 22: It's Willow. Not studying, but magicking. She's levitating herself and various objects while hovering over a pentagram, her room bathed in green candlelight from black candles.
She appears to be struggling with feeling the Hellmouth's activation....
The Good: I liked Rupert's pretty-cold handling of allowing Joyce and whoever else to be murdered in an attempt to keep the dagger from Dru... It was very Council of him. [It does have that caveat of my agreeing ultimately with Jenny, though.]
I loved Drusilla pointing out to Rupert that he chose a WEAK companion, nearly sounding disappointed in his choice.
I also loved that look of absolute glee on Drusilla's face as she stabs the dagger deep into the unexpecting Spike.
The Bad: The companions in the Scooby Orbit are really treated shabbily. I don't understand how Cordy doesn't have a scene at the party, where she'd surely be. I don't understand how Robin wouldn't be ingratiating himself into Buffy's inner circle by being her date. I don't understand how Rose is barely a blip at all.
Also, Willow already levitating herself seems pretty advanced. There was, again, a shortcut taken with her magic growth.
Other Thoughts: So. I like that Rupert/Jenny are coming into closer orbit with Joyce/Eric, and I like that Buffy's mom has a whole life that there wasn't a lot of time to devote to in the show. But, I sorta would've liked a slower build to Joyce's becoming aware that Sunnydale is different than other places. There is no-way to explain away Drusilla, Spike and the minions, when they're in vamp-face, they've drained a guest and Spike nearly tore Joyce's throat out. So, once again, something that should've taken several issues has been condensed to a few pages.
The Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars