Now we're awesome! After what I still believe to be a slow start setting up plot and introducing new characters we've started to get right down to the nitty gritty. Severin is a very interesting character. Given the nature of the world now that magic is gone (or at least powered down significantly) I do believe that we are well on our way marching towards the Fray future...slowly but surely. We learn about why Xander's been sleeping on the couch and it's rather amusing. The art was good in this issue, but that has been my problem with Jeantry all along. Inconsistent art bugs me more than bad art. I'd rather see bad art on a constant basis rather than inconsistent awesome art all the time and unfortunately that has what we've been getting. The writing has been excellent and characterization bang on. This issue felt like a classic Buffy episode more so than the previous two.
I don't think I'd prefer if the art was always bad.
I liked the issue, even though it's focused more on the plot than the deep characterization and interpersonal relationships. It's understandable, since there's a lot of new plot developments to deal with. There will be time for a more nuanced exploration of relationships.
I'm not sure if the explanation about the fight between Xander and Dawn was the truth, or something they came up with to tell the police. I don't think I'd be telling strangers about my private matters. Anyway, I like them much better in #3 than in #2. Here they do show interest in Buffy's well-being, and offer good advice to Buffy to talk to the police and sort things out. They don't start interrogating Buffy about her new friend/colleague, or try to argue with her some more, but she's an adult and can make her decisions, and they probably figured Severin was a part of the fight. (Which they are trying to leave.) It wouldn't be the first time they've met a male demon-fighter.
In #2, I was more irked by the two of them not showing much interest or concern in what is going on with Buffy, than in not giving her shelter. I said it before, I would have been happier if they had told her: Buffy, you're being stupid. You shouldn't have ran away from police custody. You better sort it out with the police. We don't want to give you shelter so we wouldn't be accomplices harboring a fugitive.
I thought that in #2 Buffy was acting incredibly reckless and stupid when he ran from the police, instead of staying until everything is cleared and they let her go - I can't see what evidence they'd have against her - but I don't see anything wrong with her wanting to take care of a nest of feral vampires first. She's already a fugitive, things aren't going to get significantly worse if she talks to Dowling a day later, and sorting things out with the police might take a while, and she's just heard about this new vampire threat.
The twist about Eldre Koh/Severin is good, although it's something a lot of people on Buffyforums had been speculated about. I'm starting to think that with so much speculation, there's very little that can still surprise us.
I found it funny that Koh is so used to being imprisoned that he wants to live at Alcatraz because it reminds him of 'home'. Poor demon, it will take a while to adjust. I assume he meant the part about "breathing the same air" metaphorically, like Spike when he talked about "putting him [Angel] in the bloody ground" in Becoming II
; either that, or Koh doesn't know much about vampires. We get another reminder that pure demons look down on vampires (or rather did in the pre-Seed world), but maybe he shouldn't, since he is no stronger than Spike, at least not at the moment.
The cliffhanger ending seems to suggest that Severin is going to try to drain Buffy's power, but I'm not sure that Severin is really going to immediately attack Buffy .
And hopefully his storyline doesn't unfold that
quickly. Furthermore, I don't think he's been planning to take away Buffy's powers, even if it's what he wants now; for starters, he doesn't know enough about his powers yet, he's probably never met a Slayer before, and maybe he had no idea that he could take powers from a Slayer until he touched Buffy and saw the glowy thing starting to happen. Besides, he's been far too open about his desire for power, and that he could even be more powerful than Buffy; sounds more like someone who is just starting to figure it out, rather than someone who had it planned all along. I would certainly like him to be more morally ambiguous than downright moustache-twirling evil, even though I think he will likely be the villain for the season. I've said before the issue came out that I see him more as Faith 2.0 (rather than a new love interest or whatever else people were speculating): someone who seems like a suitable, if not entirely trustworthy, slaying partner, maybe even a possible replacement for Buffy if she doesn't want to be 'the one', but who turns out to be just a bit too much in love with his powers and not so concerned about morality. Though he and Faith come from the opposite poles of the financial/class divide, in addition to different gender.
Someone on BF posted a comparison between the last panel of this issue and the guy with the glasses from#40, now it seems they're the same person. But then, Willow, Simone and the fairy were also depicted as threats in season 9, and at least one of them isn't exactly evil.
Now the bad:
Willow's explanation about zompires makes the kind of sense that's not. If the demon isn't animating zompires, then what is? Why aren't they corpses? What is the magic that Severin is sucking from them?
And if they're feral and mindless because the demon isn't there - then it seems like vampire's human memories and intelligence and emotions come from... the demon?!
Isn't the demon mindless, like Pure-Demon-Angel in Pylea?
I really hope that Willow is wrong, but unfortunately they probably just needed to get zompires and it didn't matter what nonsensical explanation they came up with. The conversation at the writers' meeting probably went something like this:
"Hey, it would be great if we had a new kind of vampires that are totally mindless and feral. Like zombies. Zompires!"
"Zompires! Cool! Great idea!"
"And anyone who gets sired after the Seed was broken becomes a zompire!'
"But how do we explain it?"
"I dunno, we'll think of some crap".
But then, it was probably similar with most of the mythology.
"How do we explain why Angel is different from the other vampires?"
"He has a soul."
"What is the soul?"
"Well, it's something that makes him good. And when he doesn't have it, he's evil."