Oh, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight," you had such promise early on.
Well, to be fair, it's not like the comic has crashed and burned hideously. (Well, all right, it briefly did but that was back in April for one issue.) But rather, it was such a strong comic for its first few storylines, and now? Uneven is probably the best word to describe it.
It doesn't help that Joss Whedon has decided to cram every single character he can into the comic for the final storyline of the "Season Eight" series. I somehow doubt that after the Master appeared in the previous issue's cliffhanger that there were many readers jumping up and down and cheering for his return (with only Glory or the Anointed One possibly being less popular big villains), but in an already jam-packed story he's just one more character added in. What's that? We need Spike piloting a Victorian steampunk airship crewed by massive insects? Sure, throw that in too, what's one more random character addition?
Even less appealing is that once again we're getting an exposition dump, a combination of "remember when this happened twenty issues ago?" and "oh, here are things we should explain." And when the answer to, "Why didn't the good guys tell Buffy their big plan?" is, "They did, but she was still magically-horny and too busy daydreaming about sex to pay attention," well, I suspect there are a lot less "near mint" copies of this issue thanks to people throwing it across the room.
At its core, though? There's not a bad story here. It's actually slightly interesting, or at least it would be if the book didn't have to keep cutting away to another of the 743 different characters thrown into the pot. I'm sure Whedon appreciates that he doesn't have to hire all of these returning actors and work with their schedules, but a little goes a long way, here.
Georges Jeanty's pencils are also not up to par this month; they're a little rougher than we've come to expect on this book, although it's still miles better than his issue of "Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne" back in July. The pages here at least flow a bit more smoothly, and characters are almost all recognizable at a glance. Still, it's not up to his normal standards for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and hopefully next month that'll be fixed.
I recently re-read the first two collections of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight" and they were so much stronger than the last couple of stories that it actually made me a little sad. I'm not sure why the comic has lost its way so badly just in time for the conclusion, and it's a genuine shame. This used to be a great comic, now it's struggling just to even be good.