Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 23
Dark Horse (Volume 1, 1998-2003)
Creators: Christopher Golden (writer), Cliff Richards (penciller), Joe Pimental (inker)
Setting: Season Four
T.V. Character Appearances: Buffy, Giles, Xander, Anya, Willow, Spike, Drusilla (flashback only)
Major Original Characters: Lucy Hanover (Slayer; as ghost only); Tergazzi (demon informant); Hiram (demon henchman); Xerxes the Blind (demon); Vraka (demon lord); Xiu (vampire twin)
Summary: Buffy goes into a funk after hearing that she slew the guardian who kept Ky-Laag from stirring. She decides to stand guard at the quarry, and intercepts vampire twins working for the demon lord Vraka (slaying one of the pair). Meanwhile, Spike tells Giles and the rest of the Scoobies that he has encountered Vraka before, in Venice hundreds of years ago. Before he can finish the story, Spike is attacked by Vraka's henchmen, Hiram, while, at the quarry, Buffy is attacked by Xerxes the Blind. Hiram is defeated and reveals Vraka's lair, while Xerxes escapes Buffy when Vraka himself rescues him. And in the midst of all this combat, the demon informant Tergazzi is hypnotically lured to the quarry and jumps in to awaken Ky-Laag.
Review: A combat-heavy issue here, as Buffy fights vampire twins, Xerxes, and Vraka in succession, and the Scoobies fight Hiram. The twist at the end involving Tergazzi was nice, as was the brief flashback to Spike rescuing Drusilla from Vraka in Venice a century earlier. Still, for the most part, this issue seemed to be mostly filler and didn't advance the story very much--we still don't really know why Vraka is here or what this Ky-Laag creature is all about.
* Cliff Richards, the penciller, does a good job drawing character likenesses, but sometimes his clothing choices and hairstyles are a little odd--Anya, for example, looks like a conservative suburban housewife.
* I'm not sure if its the writer's or the artist's fault, but the demons Vraka and Hiram have very cliched, generic fantasy-novel appearances.