Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 34
(Dark Horse, Vol. 1 1998-2003)
Creators: Tom Fassbender & Jim Pascoe (writers); Cliff Richards (pencils); Joe Pimentel (inks)
Setting: Season Four
T.V. Character Appearances: Riley, Buffy, Xander, Giles, Anya, Willow, Tara, Spike
Major Original Characters: Warren Whitcomb (entomologist) (corpse only); Cole (Initiative member/bug); Rebecca Stansberry (librarian)
Summary: Having penetrated deep into the underground hive of the giant bug-creatures, Buffy and her friends are confronted by the corpse of Warren Whitcomb, animated by one of the bugs to speak. Through Whitcomb's body, the hive explains that Whitcomb thought he could control the hive, but that the Scoobies' intervention disrupted his plans. Still, the hive plans to continue breeding and then take control of the surface. A massive fight breaks out, with Xander using a flamethrower and Buffy using an axe. Meanwhile, on the surface, Riley wakes from his coma and rushes out of the hospital room, while Spike cuts open one of the insects to discover its "power stone". Riley finds Spike and forces him to help in finding the others. Down below, Cole saves Buffy's life but gets killed by Spike, and the group discovers the source of the bugs mystical energy: crystals embedded in a wall. The group destroys them all and returns to the surface victorious. Rebecca is waiting for them and explains why she disappeared (she was in the hospital). She tells Giles she might be interested in spending more time with him if ever leaves Sunnydale.
It's hard to go wrong with a huge battle against giant bug-monsters, even if their origin and concept (magical power stones?) was never particularly well explained. Shoehorning every cast member into the story was probably unnecessary, as many hardly get a line of dialogue. I did appreciate the "twist" that Rebecca Stansberry had (apparently) absolutely nothing at all to do with any of the demon business; though, alas, poor Giles loses at love again. All in all, not a particularly memorable storyline (with Riley being particularly useless), but not terrible.
* No letters page this time out, but a house ad for the next story arc: "False Memories".
* Do we care that the Scoobies basically committed genocide?
* In what I think is a continuity error, Spike references having tortured and killed the Chaos Demon that Drusilla cheated on Spike with in Rio.