The best thing about this new Buffy series is everything that you haven’t seen before. New monsters is great, but to truly shake things up is to challenge these characters with situations they have never been in. Even if you knew that Xander would never turn into a vampire permanently, that didn’t change the pain of seeing any one of these three going through this kind of suffering. As I said before, one does not simply turn into a vampire and turn back.
Like most issues, I appreciate the little summary of events from the previous issue that we get from Cordy. It reminds you that she is more than just your average popular girl, and it keeps your mind set on what the focus of the story is. That being the adventure which Buffy and Willow set upon to retrieve a Soul Tie. The only thing that could save someone like Xander in the state he is in. Where this took them was exciting because the nostalgia quickly set in when remembering what a team-up looks like with these two, minus the magic. With Buffy as the muscle and Willow as the brains, it was a solid combination despite this adventure being fairly to the point. Which I didn’t have a problem with. Anyone could want to see a full D&D experience, but it was important to create a sense of urgency in saving Xander. I also welcomed the third-party involvement that you couldn’t have seen coming.
What truly did make the experience worthwhile was the emotion poured into it. In the previous issue we got plenty of emotional fallout from the way they found Xander, but this was that time for them to challenge their fortitude in the face of the possibility that they could lose a friend. For all the distance between them and Xander, there was no better opportunity to address this and show that his friends cared about his well-being. This may have taken the form of blaming themselves, but any person would also do the same in that situation.
Things did get interesting back with Giles, Jenny, and Xander. On one hand there was a surprising heart to heart shared between Giles and Jenny. One thing that we never got to see enough of was the perspective of others who see this dynamic between Giles and Buffy. Would most agree with this considering her age? Where is the line drawn between kid and slayer? Their conversation tackled this topic perfectly while reinforcing the confidence Giles has in Buffy despite his tough love. On the other hand, there was Xander who shocked for the kind of insight he has been able to pick up from being bitten. You wouldn’t think this to be possible, and yet this is the kind of story where you expect the unexpected. Especially when this insight allows a better understanding of what Mistress Drusilla and Spike have in store for the Hellmouth.
It was the creativity in things new which made this issue standout in contrast to some of the previous issues. These were no ordinary woods that Buffy and Willow traveled through. Neither were the creatures they encountered, or the big one they confronted at the end to retrieve the Soul Tie. That big creature was nothing at all what you imagined when thinking of an item which could save a life. It looked like something that would attack anyone between all the glowing red eyes and devilish horns, which worked for keeping everyone on their toes about how the encounter would end. For the most part it was the setting which popped out to me. I enjoyed the dark woods looks, with the misty atmosphere, and green-ish overlay. The only issue I found was that there was some panels where the perspective didn’t quite work for some of the faces. They ended up looking a bit awkward. However, these were not the important scenes, so it was easy to overlook this when the scene which demanded us feeling the emotion from these characters stood out.
Credit where it is due that this creative team is willing to take Buffy and company to new places as well. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #6 proved that even at this stage these kids are willing to go above and beyond to save the lives of those closest to them. This issue was overall adventurous, engaging, and clever for the twists thrown in here and there.