What Is It?: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Issue #33: Twilight, Part 2- The Master Plan (written by Brad Meltzer; art by Georges Jeanty).
Timing: BtVS, Season Eight. Directly follows #32.
REVIEW: So, kinda late, huh?
Well. Here it is. The most important issue of Season Eight so far. In March 2007, Twilight creepily spied on Buffy in the first issue of the season. Later that year, in the conclusion to No Future For You, he made his first appearance. In a mask and a whole bunch of belts. People speculated that he was Riley (until Riley came into play later on as, well, Riley), people speculated that he was Xander or Giles, people speculated that he was a FUTURE VERSION of Xander or Giles. And some people speculated that he was either Angel or Spike.
Well, he's Angel. For my initial reaction, clicky here.
When Twilight's identity leaked to the interwebs, the speculation was crazy. But there was one thing I didn't really take into account. Maybe Angel as Twilight isn't evil. I probably didn't take it into account because... well, we've seen Twilight do outright evil things?
Well, in this issue, Angel sure makes an argument against that. Buffy seems like she's on the edge of believing him. The fandom is divided. So I'm going to come at this from an angle that needs a voice. A fan, first and foremost, of Angel. Angel the character, Angel the show, Angel the comic. I care about the guy a hell of a lot more than I do Buffy, Willow, Xander, and most of the other characters in the Season Eight comic. And don't misunderstand me, I care about those characters a lot. A whole entire buttload, in fact. But Angel's different. Angel's hero journey is important to me, and so is the integrity of his character.
So understand how much this issue had to win me over.
The question is... did it?
Answer... well, yeah. I'm with it. Of course, I have to wait to see how the fallout and the explanation and all that good stuff gets handled. But Angel makes a damn good argument for why he was right to put on that mask and those very many belts. A part of it is this: that change Buffy is going through? The spike in her powers? Not because of dead slayers. There is a piece of mythology that both Angel and Giles understand (to be revealed next issue) that will reveal why Buffy has superpowers, why Angel does, and also why they were meant to love each other and why they can't be happy with anyone else.
The issue itself is brilliant. Meltzer is complete winnage. Funny dialogue, so much geekery, and the tension and emotion brings on a physical reaction while reading. From the build-up, to the actual unmasking, to the long awaited confrontation, to when Buffy finally gives in and kisses Angel... it's a ride of an issue.
I can safely say I have no idea where it's going, but at this point, I've come to trust Joss's plan and also Meltzer for the way he writes these characters. According to Scott Allie, we'll have a better idea of the why behind Angel's actions after #34 and #35, but this was an epic installment that gave us enough information for me not to spend the month going crazy over the way Angel is being used, and to also look forward to next month's installment.
I can't believe the season, after so many bad and mediocre issues, is back at this level of greatness, but I'm quite simply loving it.
Art: The art is good. Jeanty did a great job with some scenes and a less-than-great-but-not-bad job with others. He does struggle with Angel's face a bit, but not to the point where it really takes away from the story. The only truly sucky panel is where Buffy throws the tree-stake at Angel, and Angel looks like... well, I don't even know. But blegh. The rest of the issue is solid, though.
Covers: Both covers are pretty cool. Jeanty's features an unmasked Twilight (face blurred) surrounded by a shocked Willow, Xander, and Buffy. It's another homage cover (this time to Spider-man), and it's better than most of his recent covers have been. Jo Chen's cover is good, but flawed. She's an expert at Buffy's face, totally nailing the expression of a devastated, I-just-found-out-Angel-is-Twilight Buffy. However, Buffy's neck is like... as long as an arm.
Characters We Know: Buffy, Xander, Giles, Faith, Andrew, Willow, Satsu, Dawn, Amy, Warren, The General, Twilight... well, from now on, Angel.