The covers: Two covers for you to hunt down. The Main cover is by Steve Morris. Buffy is in the foreground looking a little forlorn. Behind her is young Giles reading out of the massive Vampyr tome. On the other side of their third story balcony, floating in the air, is D’Hoffryn, powering up with purple energy racing around him. The always beautiful city of San Francisco is brilliant, were it not for a massive sand colored cloud that has engulfed a street. A monstrous amphibian-like tail is a snaking out the bottom of the cloud. Nice cover, but none of this appears in this issue, save D’Hoffryn in the end–SPOILER! Just kidding, not much of a spoiler. The Variant cover is by Rebekah Isaacs with Dan Jackson. Willow and Giles are reading out a book of spells. Red energy explodes underneath the book. Flip this cover over and see a deadly mirror image of this pair: Dark Willow and the “old” Giles fans are used to seeing reading out of the same book. What’s it mean? I don’t know because this image isn’t in this book, either. It looks great and was the cover I purchased, but I’m hoping it’s not giving away too much of what will happen next month. Overall grade: Main B- and Variant A
The story: After the personal mess of the last story arc, Buffy is looking forward to relaxing in her apartment, only to find that one of her roommates has moved out and two newbies have moved in, with one being held upside down to take a swig from a keg in the living room. She gives notice that she’s moving out. At Xander and Dawn’s apartment she learns they’re moving out since their relationship is going through an adjustment. All of them are in desperate need of money, and even Buffy has burned through her bodyguard money due to student loans. Giles leaves to meet with Willow to see a lawyer to get legal right to his identity, since he’s been killed, reborn, and is now a minor. As they walk, Willow tells him that there’s no spell she knows of that could bring him to his correct age without killing him, so that plotline is rendered moot for now. The lawyer says he can do what he can for the youth, but there is something they might be able to do to help their situation. Part One of “The Wish” by Christos Gage hits all the right marks. Drama? Check. Funny one liners? “Mighty Sarlacc!” Check. Supernatural foes? Oh, that’s a big 10-4. See Page 8. I couldn’t have seen that coming if I had a million eyes. What our heroes have to deal with seems like a lost episode of the television series. Some of the characters’ reactions to the threat were expected, such as Buffy’s, but the reaction at the bottom of 14 was a golden moment. I was glad to see this comedic moment of truth brought back to a triple threat level with Page 15. The solution to the problem was enjoyable and the reveal on 20 actual a surprise. How D’Hoffryn figures into all of this, I couldn’t say. At least not for 30 days. Another enjoyable story. Overall grade: A
The art: Rebekah Isaacs is taking a breather this month, so Karl Moline and Cliff Richards provide the issue’s pencils and Andy Owens does the inks. They do a suitable job. The characters resemble their actors somewhat, but I’ve been spoiled by Isaacs. Buffy, Spike, and Xander look the best, while Dawn, Giles, and Willow need a little more work. Page 8 is the stand out of the issue because it’s completely unexpected and I’ve never seen anything like this in any of the episodes or comics. The art takes a dip on Page 10. It’s just not working in this setting. The adults on 14 are muddled and the colorist has to provide the depth to the art. This was an okay looking book, but nothing to write home about. Overall grade: C
The colors: Great work on every page by Dan Jackson. He’s making a lot of this book look three dimensional. Look at Buffy’s face at the bottom of Page 1. Were it not for Jackson’s contributions to the illustration Buffy’s nose would be invisible. The background behind her is also well done with the spatter of white and powder blue. On Page 8 colors explode in violet and lime green. The orange sound also make it stand out. When the new setting is reached, even Jackson can’t do much to save the visuals. Jackson does what he can. Overall grade: A-
The letters: That inseparable Buffy duo of Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft provide this issue’s narration, title, dialogue, scene settings, sounds, and vampire dialogue. They do their always great job. What else can be said about constant perfection? Overall grade: A+
The final line: Everything is good, but the art, which is important in a comic book. Buffy fans will enjoy this, but I don’t see how new fans would rejoice. Overall grade: B
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.