Oh, yeah, and Angel is Twilight.
Even thought I've know about this for a couple months, thanks to the magic of Internet spoilers, it was still shocking to see it on the page the first time. I absolutely loved that Angel unmasked himself almost as a joke, in response to one of Buffy's jokes about "Twilight" (which I'm pretty sure is the first time in this series that the connection between the villain's name and the unfortunately successful Stephanie Meyer series has been explicitly referenced).
The Jeanty cover is an homage to Amazing Spider-Man #289, where the Hobgoblin's identity was revealed. It's funny, but looking at the outline of Twilight's hair on Jeanty's cover, it's hard NOT to see Angel. Ditto for Chen's cover, where you can only see his clothes and part of his face, but the shirt seems so much like something Angel would wear that it's hard to not see it.
THE WRITE STUFF
Brad Meltzer has been handed probably the most difficult single arc in this entire series and so far he's pulled it off phenomenally well. As everyone involved with this issue has promised since the spoilers broke, it's not just about WHO is Twilight, but about the characters' reactions to it, most specifically Buffy.
Buffy's reaction to finding out her ex-boyfriend -- and really her one true love -- is now her mortal enemy, is as you would expect. She quickly dives into the stages of grief, all while fighting Angel with everything she's got.
1. Denial ("That's not Angel. It's Not. It's Gotta Be Angelus.")
2. Anger ("YOU KILLED MY GIRLS! TWO HUNDRED AND SIX GIRLS!")
3. Bargaining (actually, I don't think we see bargaining, mostly because Buffy doesn't really "do" bargaining -- despite that being the title of the Season Six premiere).
4. Depression (the tear in here eye as Angel explains why they're connected)
5. Acceptance (they kiss)
So, yeah, the issue ends on Buffy and Angel kissing, which I think is actually a bigger reveal than Angel being Twilight. I'm very excited to see where this goes in the next couple issues.
What struck me the most was not Buffy's reaction to Angel being Twilight, but the aftermath of Issue #32, where Buffy found out she had all her new special powers because the other slayers were dying. Xander tries to comfort her, but Buffy is having none of it:
"But don't you see what it does make me? If I'm sucking their power... it makes me a vampire."It may be hard, but remember all the way back to Season 1's episode "Nightmares". One of Buffy's biggest fears is becoming a vampire, so while she may not be a literal vampire, she sees herself as one, which is horrifying to her. Great job by Meltzer to make this connection and give this scene the gravitas it needed.
THE ART STUFF
Speaking of that scene, I love how Jeanty was able to show Buffy's eyes with tears welling up, without making it look like she was breaking down. It was that kind of subtle emotion that led me to purchase the cover for issue #31, and it's the kind of detail that really makes an issue like this pop.
As for Jeanty's Angel, I'd say he looks more like the actor who played him than any other character in the series so far. And, of course, since Angel is an ageless vampire, he looks like Angel did back on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", not like David Boreanaz does now. In the final pages of the book, he even gets Angel's forehead worry lines right, when he would get that crinkly-faced broody sad look on the show (think early-to-mid Season 2).
Another page that particularly stood out to me was the page at Twilight/Angel's headquarters, where he's addressing his captives (Giles, Faith and Andrew) and we see each of their faces individually. It'
I had to give this its own section, because this issue is like nerd overload (which is awesome). There are direct references to Superman: The Movie, Twilight (as mentioned above), Highlander and Rising Stars.
Oh, and that Andrew scene. He shows up to try and fight Angel wearing the most cobbled-together comic/movie reference costume ever. He's got Luke Skywalker's helmet from Star Wars, Captain America's shield, Batman's utility belt, Iron Man's repulsor glove and Punisher's vest. Plus, he uses The Thing's catchphrase, "It's clobberin' time." He's immediately jumped up five spots on my Buffy character rankings.
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