Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 38
(Dark Horse Vol. 1, 1998-2003)
Creators: Tom Fassbender & Jim Pascoe (writers); Cliff Richards (penciller); Joe Pimentel & Will Conrad (inkers)
Setting: Season Five
T.V. Character Appearances: Buffy, Spike, Dawn, Xander, Giles, Anya, Tara, Willow
Major Original Characters: Yuki Makimura (vampire); Shiden (mentor)
Spike tries to warn Buffy about the dangers posed by Yuki, but Buffy thinks it's just part of the trap and refuses to listen. At his construction site, Xander is attacked and kidnapped by several vampires sent by Yuki. At the Magic Box, the remaining Scoobies discuss what to do about Yuki and the Eidu sect's plan to restore the Master to life by summoning his spirit from the astral plane and placing it into the body of a mortal. Anya suggests using a vapour blade to kill the Master's spirit. The Scoobies find the cult's hiding place in the ruins of Sunnydale High and attack, realizing that Xander was to be the receptacle for the Master's spirit! Willow and Tara cast a spell to keep the spirit from entering Xander's body, and Dawn picks up the fallen vapour blade and uses it to kill (or dispel?) the Master's astral form. Buffy stakes Yuki and punches out Spike for his ambiguous role in the events.
Fairly standard "interrupt the summoning ritual" stuff. The twist about it being the Master's astral spirit was a nice touch (far better than just a generic demon). Solid characterization throughout, and good artwork. On the whole, though, nothing we haven't seen before and somewhat underwhelming given the story arc's promising first issue. The theme about Dawn's false memories gets something of a payoff, but could be better. I really think that the comic writers work so hard to recreate the feel of an episode that their stories end up derivative, and that they've usually missed a golden opportunity to use the medium to its fullest effect.
* Really cool artwork on the cover--something I often don't pay much attention to.
* Funny that Anya just so happens to have a vapour blade laying around . . .
* There's a really weird series of panels at the bottom of the first Magic Box scene, where the focus is on Giles' hands; not really sure why.
* On the letters' page, the editor, Scott Allie, says this is his favorite story arc yet and that, when it was being created, he felt like "we were creating a new Watchmen or Dark Knight." Scott, Scott, Scott.