Buffy: Season 8, Issue 14 Review

Since Season 5 or so, “Buffy” has been at its best dealing with deaths of an important character in a poignant manner. Though issue 5 of this series featured some of that, the Buffy look-a-like was someone we’d never met before, and had no attachment to.

That’s not the case in this issue, where Xander’s new girlfriend is shockingly killed off in the final splash page, the surprising end to a very good issue.

This issue sees Buffy and her crew take on the Japanese shape-shifting vampires. I find it interesting that on some level, Buffy still hasn’t learned her lesson from the failed Vinyard assault in Season 7, but then again, she seemed to be under the impression that her team was more prepared here.

As much as I know “Buffy” can be great when dealing with death (or, in the case of Season 5’s “Weight of the World”, seemingly inevitable death), I hope the next few issues don’t focus too much on Buffy’s post-failure guilt. I would like to see some serious emotion from Xander -- i.e. post-Anya breakup in Season 6 -- since in the last few issues, including this one, he’s been used mostly for comic relief.

A couple other small complaints about this issue. I understand the importance of having Giant Dawn in a battle like this, but at this point we’re past the one year mark in this series, and she’s still giant. Can’t we fix that yet?

Also, shouldn’t Willow have been using her powers to detect a trap BEFORE they walked into?

Still, this is overall a good issue. Buffy’s burning of the captured vampire, with the “this is war” line, is exactly how I remember her from Season 7 (at least, before the whole disaster at the vinyard and subsequent pity party), which is something I felt was missing from this series.

This issue starts to pay off on the potential from part 2, but there’s still much to be tapped, which has me excited for part 4.