Writers: Jordie Bellaire & Jeremy Lambert, Artwork: Ramon Bachs & Raúl Angulo, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Becca Carey
Page 01: We open with Willow, back in Sunnydale from her solo adventure. She's thinking to herself that it has been so long since she's seen her friends, and wondering if it's her fault that she
feels disconnected from them.
Page 02: Willow is in the midst of a trust exercise, where you fall backward and hope your friends decide to catch you. She's with Buffy, Giles and Kendra. Wills jokes that she's having second
thoughts. Giles is also just realizing that he'll have to fall back into a group of teenagers' arms when it's his turn, which strikes him as awkward. He suggests an old-fashioned group hug, instead.
But not him! The girls, but not him. Kendra and Buffy slam into Willow, and joke that Rupert always makes things sound so weird. Willow offers that she's missed all of this.
Page 03: Rupert thanks the girls for meeting him for this impromptu team building, while Kendra sarcasms that she's living with him, so didn't have a choice.
Giles ignores this, going on to tell them that they're strong when they work as a team. He expresses his confidence in their being able to deal with... him.
Willow asks that they stop walking on eggshells around her, in regards to the returned Vampire-Xander. She really just wants to end things as quickly as possible, starting with locating Jenny.
Rupert pulls out a book that he ordered from Anyanka, prior to Willow's departure. This, he hands over to her, telling her that she'll find the spells challenging but with her natural gifts, he knows
she'll be able to handle it.
Commentary: I'm liking how they're dealing with Willow's return here. It's not being belabored about her having to ditch, but they're also not ignoring the natural tension that may be there. I'm glad
that we're letting the situation simmering there in the background- but keeping the focus on the problem with Vampire-Xander, where it belongs.
I am puzzled about where Rupert is right now. Presumably, this is somewhere in the school but it doesn't look like the library or his office - but has too much brick wall and large windows to be his
house. And with all of the supernatural stuff hanging on the walls -- well, where the hell is this?? Does the library come with a cavernous, empty storage room attached?
Page 04: Later, in the hallway, Kendra senses that Buffy and Willow need to chat, so hangs back at the lockers.
Willow comments on Buffy and Kendra getting along better than when she left and Buffy tells her that a lot happened while she was away. They have an awkward moment, acknowledging things
aren't 'normal' between them, but Willow breaks the tension (or adds to it?) with a sudden hug.
Page 05: Willow apologizes for not being there when Xander 'came back', but explains that she felt and feels like he's constantly around her - making it hard for her to breathe. Buffy apologizes for
not protecting Rose.
They agree that they need to have some hang-out time to themselves to get one another caught up, but Buffy points out that she can't just go back to being 'super friends' after Willow just
vanished on them. She agrees with Buffy that there is some funkiness hanging between them. But both are also sure they'll work it out.
Robin calls Buffy from down the hallway.
Page 06: With Robin's arrival, Buffy rather thoughtlessly leaves Willow standing in the hallway. Kendra has caught up, and sympathizes with Buffy's attention being elsewhere. Willow feels another
bit of 'being left out' as she hadn't realized that Buffy had a boyfriend. And she's even more surprised that Buffy talked to Kendra about it.
Page 07: Willow questions whether Buffy being serious with somebody is right for her, after what happened with the Hellmouth and the Xan-situation. Kendra admits it isn't her place to judge, but
tells Willow that Buffy is happy, and she got the feeling that letting herself be happy isn't the norm for the other Slayer.
Willow tries to get onboard.
Commentary: Yeah, I like the way this is being handled. Willow is coming back on a lot of changes, and it's nice that we're seeing the awkwardness between the former bestest friends. I also like
the way Willow is reacting to Buffy having found a new confidante, while she was away. I'm not real cool with Willow's commenting on Buffy's relationship upgrade with Robin, but I understand it.
I do like this ongoing tension too, in Willow's responses to everyone. It's like she's trying a little too hard to recapture the easy feel of the old friendships, while also telling herself that things can't be how they were.
Page 08: As Kendra and Willow walk together, the Slayer brings up her deepening relationship with Rose. She assures Willow that she hadn't planned on it, or anything, but she just found Rose
different than anyone she'd known before.
Willow seems cool with Rose having moved on from their breakup, and jokes that they'll all get along swimmingly in between the constant near-death experiences.
Page 09: That evening, as the sun is going down, Buffy and Robin are on a parkbench together being -um- 'cute'.
[Look, I'm going to vomit if I hang out on this page... let's just leave it at that.]
Page 10: Robin manages to stop being 'cute' for a moment, in order to ask Buffy how her training session went, despite her trying to avoid heavy discussions. She admits that even though it's good to have Willow back, it's also feeling weird. She tells him that she's gotten so much closer to him and Kendra, with Willow being gone without a word for months, and now she's trying to act like
nothing happened [that isn't true - Willow has been very upfront about knowing that things are different; she is trying hard to recapture the feel of what was - but she isn't acting like 'nothing
Buffy is also still hung up on her failure to keep Rose from being so hurt, and Willow can't understand that, like Robin and Kendra do.
He tries to get Buffy to let what happened go, as he saw Rose that day, and he assures her that Rose doesn't blame her for what happened to her.
Commentary: As you'll probably not remember since I've been slackin' so long - Rose got impaled while Buffy was having a meltdown over her not-so-great date with Robin, and her
competitiveness with Kendra getting in the way. Willow returned last BTVS-issue to Rose's hospital bed and assured her that she'd be fine -- presumably using some Abhainn magic to help her
But we've not gotten any interactions between Buffy and Rose or between Willow and Rose to know exactly how Rose is feeling about her life-threatening injury - other than she obviously isn't
Page 11: Buffy tells Robin that she's probably not going to feel any better than she does now about what happened to Rose, so they should just put that on a shelf. They get... -erm- 'cute', again.
Commentary: The more of Robin/Buffy I get, the less I'm engaged in it. I was having an open mind, but nah -- this isn't working for me.
Page 12: Robin walks Buffy home, where they find police out front. In a panic, Buffy rushes to Eric who is outside. She finds that her mother was working late, so Eric was home alone making
dinner when a trio of 'kids' broke in with baseball bats. They beat Eric, while demanding to know where Buffy and Joyce were. Robin clarifies that they asked for Buffy and her mother by name, and
Eric tells Buffy that it's not safe for her there.
Commentary: I liked some of the artwork here, but it looked like Eric took a bat right to the head. I'm not sure that the police not calling an ambulance immediately was such a good idea. I do like
that the people in Buffy's orbit are being drawn into Buffy's extracurriculars - presumably by Vampire-Xander - more often than in prime BTVS. The trio of bat-wielders is interesting, as they can't be
vampires so who are they? They're wearing wolf faces, and belatedly I started to wonder if they're not guys in masks, but that the wolf-faces are their actual faces?
Page 13: Back in Xander's lair, he has Jenny still alive. He's forcing her to work on a potion of some sort on his behalf. And menacing her that he's getting bored with the wait.
Page 14: Jenny tries to explain to vampire-Xander that if he wants her help, she needs him to back off a little so she can focus. But he's not in the mood for listening. He informs Jenny that she's
not 'helping' him, she's 'serving' him.
He rushes up behind her, informing her that he'll hover just as much and close as he chooses. He wraps his hands around Jenny's and squeezes until the mortar bowl actually shatters under the
strain, and both of her hands are left bloody and crushed. She begs him to stop....
Commentary: This scene. This was pretty harrowing, and it was obvious that Vamp-Xan was on the verge of losing control of himself. It was nice that Jenny tried to stand up to him a little, but it
turned out that wasn't a good move. I liked that Xan is trying to recapture something of what he was (presumably - he brings up her part in his soul-tie incantation that night), rather than just killing
her/turning her to turn the screw on Giles.
Page 15: Before Vamp-Xan can hurt her any further, they're interrupted by an imp who has returned to let Xander know that Joyce wasn't home so they couldn't snatch her up [for reference, he
refers to the trio as goblins].
Xan rages that he'll make 'her' love him, and Jenny intuits that she's been working on a pathetic love spell. She asks why Xan would do that to his friend, Buffy. But it's implied that he's not
interested in Buffy, he wants Willow to come to him. Vampire-Xan also mentions that he 'can feel her in the air', just as Willow has said that she feels him around her.
He orders to Jenny to restart the potion, with his temper cooled somewhat for the moment.
Commentary: I'm starting to warm to the Vampire-Xander situation, where he should've been ashed but isn't. I think we can intuit that this is more fallout from the Soul-Tie ritual that shouldn't have
been used between Willow and Xander. Somehow, it has bound Willow and Vampire-Xander so deeply that he was resurrected, despite the Tie no longer being active [or, there is a tiny shard that
wasn't returned to Willow, yet].
Page 16: That evening, Willow is with Rose in her bedroom. Rose is there as a friend, and Willow assures her that she's not trying to break up her and Kendra, or that she came back to Sunnydale
expecting anything else. She regards herself as fortunate to have any friends left after all everyone has been through, and her having bailed when they needed her.
Rose tells Willow that she wasn't ever alone, and if she needed help dealing, she only had to call.
Page 17: The real reason that Willow has asked Rose over is because she's been reading the spellbook Giles gave her. She's found an astral-projection incantation that should, in theory, allow
her to find Jenny, but she needs someone with her body, to hold a connection so she can find her way back. She trusts Rose.
Page 18: Rose agrees, and Willow is able to project. She's able to still interact with the physical world, while her mind is elsewhere and under Rose's admonition to be careful - she starts down a
Page 19: Elsewhere, Joyce and Buffy have relocated to a hotel for the night. Buffy checks in on Eric, who insists that he's fine and Joyce jokes about him sewing himself up with tooth floss and a
toothpick. Buffy asks about going back home, and Joyce tells her that they've been asked to allow the police to surveil for a few days. She offers that Buffy's got her own room, and room service
isn't all bad.
Page 20: Much later, Robin has joined Buffy in 'her own room'. Robin worries that if someone is hunting for her and her mother, it may be Xander. He worries about having been followed, but Buffy
says that they probably already know where they are, if it is related to her former friend.
Page 21: Robin remains concerned that this is a serious escalation, but Buffy has her mind on something else while they're there - together. She tells Robin to stay the night with her.
Page 22: In the meantime, Willow is following the trail for Jenny. Before she can connect with her, though, she runs into a spirit-version of Vampire-Xander blocking her way. He tells her that he
knew she'd come back.
The Good: I like that there is still lingering tensions about Willow's having vanished without a word, but it's also not being heavy-handed in addressing the issue.
I found the Kendra/Rose relationship a bit sudden, and they're really rushing it but I'm onboard.
I liked Vampire-Xander's escalation in violence with Jenny and targeting Buffy and Joyce. And his doing so, not because Buffy is the Slayer or a former friend, but just as a cog in the machine to get
to his former best friend, Willow.
The Bad: Nothing sits here.
Other Thoughts: Robin/Buffy isn't doing anything for me. Like, seriously - nothing.
The Score: It's an alright issue, with some harrowing panels for Vampire-Xander and I like Willow uncomfortably fitting back into her role in the Scooby Gang.
3.50 out of 5