What Is It: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #4: The Long Way Home pt 4 (written by Joss Whedon)
Timing: BtVS Season Eight, following Issue #3
REVIEW: This issue, more than any of the others, needs a second reading to appreciate it. In the first read, the story is way too fast paced, too many things are happening, and it is a bit confusing. By the second read, everything should fall into place. But that still doesn't make up for the first read. While this is a good conclusion to the first arc of season eight, I felt that Joss could have kept it a bit more straight forward. However, the set ups for the Big Bad are well done, as is Buffy's reaction to the reveal in the end. The shocking death of an established character only causes the action to heat up, and the subtle reveal of who kissed Buffy is Issue #3 was well worth all the fan debate.
On the negative side, the scene-cuts are awkward at best in this issue, and it became apparent on page six. This is how the page is set up.
Panel 1: Warren comes down on Willow.
Panel 2: Buffy calls the name of a slayer.
Panel 3: Five new characters (elements?) who've never been seen before, appear with no explanation and say "For goodness sake, yes. Grant her access." It is unknown at this point where they are, and it throws the story off majorly.
Panel 4: Buffy, off screen, tells Satsu what to do.
Panel 5: General Voll's assistant tells him that he hears screaming.
Later on, the switches between scenes get better because there are less scenes to switch to. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm pleased that Giles or Andrew weren't in this issue. Things would have been way too crammed for our two favorite Watchers.
Don't get me wrong about this issue. It's Buffy, it's canon, and it's Joss, so you can't really go wrong. It's almost as good as issue #3, and as good as #1 & 2. The fight with Buffy/Amy, short as it was, was stellar and revealed something about Buffy that I never suspected. The final four pages make for a more shocking conclusion than I expected, and really make the whole arc make a lot more sense than it might have initially seemed.
Petty gripes aside, the only real problem I have with this issue is waiting for two whole months for the 40 page Issue #5: The Chain to come out.
Art: Jeanty gets better at illustrating these by the issue, and Jo Chen never ceases to amaze. Both of these artists seem to specialize in Dawn, because both Jeanty's interpretation of her and Jo Chen's cover display beautiful drawn Dawns.
Characters We Know: Buffy, Xander, Willow, Dawn, Amy, Warren, Ethan Rayne