Joss Whedon has never been one to get to the point quickly. But this issue of Season 8 of “Buffy” seems more rambling than usual. The biggest revelation of the series (that the bad guys have found a way to use the Scythe to strip the slayers of their powers) doesn’t come until the final 3 pages, and then, it’s after 19 pages of mostly Xander-Dracula hijinks.
For those that haven’t read the “Tales of the Vampires” story with Xander and Dracula, most of the interactions will seem slightly out of place. Though they do mesh with the subplot from “Buffy vs Dracula”, there are references that won’t be understood without the supplemental comic, which is unfortunate, since so far, most of this series hasn’t required much prior knowledge outside of the television series.
As for Buffy and Satsu, we get some follow up on that, thanks to Willow (who does, in typical Willow fashion, inquire as to Buffy’s bed skills). Still, we can’t say that storyline is resolved by a long shot.
As for Dracula, well, he hasn’t joined the fight yet, as the comic leaves his story unresolved at the point he is just offering up his services (to fight the shapeshifting vampires that have stolen his powers). I’ll be interested to see how well he adjusts to working with Buffy.
Oh, yeah, Buffy. She appears on exactly 5 pages of this book, and on 2 of them, she has no dialogue at all. As for the other 3, she makes two questionable decisions:
1 - sending Aiko out to track the shapeshifting vampires. Since these guys were able to break into Buffy’s compound and steal the scythe, how could Buffy not realize she was sending Aiko into danger (even if she ordered her not to engage)
2 - bringing the entire slayer squad with her. Given what we know now about what these vampires can do with the scythe, this is going to have serious consequences (at least, it should, and could set up some VERY interesting stories if some of these slayers survive the forthcoming battle, but become powerless).
I want to give this issue a higher grade than 3.5, but I can’t. I don’t grade on potential, I grade on payoff. This issue doesn’t have enough of it (plus, Dracula’s racism is funny the first time, not the next 7).