Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 32
Dark Horse (Vol. 1, 1998-2003)
Creators: Tom Fassbender & Jim Pascoe (writers); Cliff Richards (penciller); Joe Pimentel (inker)
Setting: Season Four
T.V. Character Appearances: Riley, Buffy, Giles, Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara, Spike
Major Original Characters: Rebecca Stansberry (librarian); Cole (Initiative member); Warren Whitcomb (entomologist)
Summary: Buffy sits at Riley's bedside, lamenting the fact that he still hasn't awakened from his coma despite her satisfying the ghost's desires in the previous issue. Later, at Giles' apartment, the Scoobies talk about the discovery of a giant insect creature in the park. Buffy agrees to investigate and Rebecca Stansberry arrives to pick Giles up for a date. The two head for a librarian mixer, where they encounter Warren Whitcomb, an entomologist who used to date Rebecca. Meanwhile, Cole returns to the alleyway where he and Riley encountered the ghost only to be attacked by insect creatures himself. The creature attaches a strange beetle-like carapace to Cole, and the former Initiative soldier becomes a mind-controlled killer and attacks Giles and Rebecca as they stroll through the park. Giles tries to fight him off but is thrown into a pond, and when he surfaces both insect-Cole and Rebecca have disappeared. He fetches the Scoobies for help, but Buffy is out patrolling. The Slayer does find the giant insect creatures she's looking for, but even with Spike's help she gets overwhelmed and knocked unconscious.
Review: Dialogue makes it sound like the Scoobies have encountered these insect monsters before, but apart from the famous preying-mantis teacher in Season One, I'm not sure where. Perhaps spin-off comics or annuals? Regardless, I can't say the plot has hooked me or is interesting enough to justify multiple issues, but it's still fun to see Giles go on dates, even if they're to "librarian mixers." This Rebecca character is foreshadowed so strongly as being involved with the insect creatures that it's either a somewhat ham-fisted mislead or the most obvious set-up for a villain ever. Meanwhile, poor Riley remains in a coma, lending one to think even the writers of the comic don't really like him (stay strong, Riley, It Gets Better!). The art remains good, and I appreciate that Richards & Pimentel are able to draw different body types, making Tara look different than Anya, for example. Speaking of Tara, she gets a nice moment with Willow in this issue, though she's still mostly relegated to the background.
* Buffy is surprisingly jealous of Rebecca in a scene that probably launched a thousand Buffy/Giles slash fics . . .
* This ad reminds me of the existence of a Buffy board game. Which I do not have! Soon after I became hooked on Buffy, I remember seeing the game at the local comic store and it looked cool. However, I had only watched the first couple seasons of the show and noticed that characters I hadn't encountered yet were in the game (like Adam) so I decided not to buy it in order to avoid spoilers. Then I forgot all about it and years passed . . . and now it's like $ 100 on E-Bay! What a cruel fate!