Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 45
(Dark Horse Volume 1, 1998-2003)
Creators: Tom Fassbender & Jim Pascoe (story), Cliff Richards (pencils), Joe Pimentel & Will Conrad (inks)
Setting: Between Seasons Five & Six
T.V. Character Appearances: Spike, Xander, Willow, Giles, Buffybot, Tara, Anya, Buffy, Dawn
Major Original Characters: Trio of Demon Brothers, Coma (seller of magical items), Mr. Richardson (high school principal)
Summary: The three demonic brothers of Doc talk with Willow about destroying a mysterious scroll in exchange for providing her with a resurrection spell. They explain that they were sent to retrieve the scroll but when they read it, they realized it was too dangerous to exist. Willow incinerates the scroll with her magic and walks away with a book containing a resurrection spell that is supposed to be reliable in the hands of a great practitioner who wields an urn of Osiris. In the sewers below the city, however, a giant egg cracks once the scroll is destroyed and a massive elephant-sized bird of prey emerges. Guardians flee and tell Coma that the bird, called the Luper, has hatched. The Luper's first stop is the house of the three demonic brothers, and it kills them easily. The next day, the Scoobies escort the Buffybot to a local mall to try to improve its social interaction. There, they run into Principal Richardson who is suspicious. That night, at the Bronze, Willow shares with her friends her view that it's time to bring Buffy back. They react with dismay and anger, but decide to think about it. Afterwards, Coma finds Willow on the street and tells her that the scroll she destroyed had a protection spell on it to unleash the Luper (the natural enemy of the demonic brothers) and that the Luper must be killed before it starts killing innocents in Sunnydale. Willow tracks down and destroys the Luper. Spike provides Coma with a rare ingredient (Malian twigs) that she can combine with Ezekiel's Bane to travel to Africa to complete her surgery. Willow persuades Xander, Anya, and Tara to join with her in the ritual to resurrect Buffy, and it works.
I love the concept of showing what happened in between Seasons Five and Six, and this story arc did help fill in some unexplained gaps. This issue in particular, however, feels very rushed and I wonder if it was intended to be longer (there's a mention on the letters page that the creative team would be leaving after next issue). The characterization and artwork are still pretty good, but the plot is rather shaky. I still have no idea what was in the scroll that the demonic brothers were after, who sent them for it, why Coma was protecting it, etc. Nor do I know what sort of surgery Coma plans to have (or why). So all in all, a bit of a let down to an otherwise excellent idea.
* Willow's fight against the Luper is really oddly intercut with her talking to the Scoobies about bringing Buffy back, making for a confusing read--we don't even actually see her defeat the creature.
*I have to assume the writers were planning on building something with Principal Richardson, because his one-page scene is pretty weird.
* The letters page contains a funny missive from a fan about Season Six's dalliance between Buffy and Spike, referring to the Slayer as a "necrowhore."