Three pages of Buffy, Dawn, and Xander fighting zompires and Buffy fighting Dawn and Xander zompires. She's "saved" from them closing in on her by someone with a stake in each hand (I love the "paft" onomatopoeia). It's the First Slayer, saying, "You are not the Slayer."
Buffy's relieved to find this is a dream, then angry that the First Slayer dusted Dawn and Xander. She attacks, but the First Slayer punches her in the gut and she wakes up, still feeling the hit. She throws up in the toilet from the nausea.
Buffy and Willow take a walk together, sipping coffee, as Buffy talks about the dream. Willow suggests talking to other Slayers; Buffy still doesn't feel on good enough terms with any of them. They conclude that the First Slayer is trying to tell Buffy something important, and Willow suggests she looks in the Vampyr book.
On the next page we see her doing just that, and even thinking about how much she misses Giles. In the last panel on the page her outfit changes and she hears "You are not the Slayer." This time the First Slayer leads her through the dream into a ruined city and points with her stake to a mountain of garbage, surrounded by snarling zompires, with the broken Scythe stuck in a stone at the top. "Only the Slayer can pull the blade from the ground. You are not the Slayer."
Buffy is annoyed by the mixed signals. She attacks again, saying "You're not the Slayer, either!" She's right, it seems: the First Slayer turns into the fairy from "The Chain". Buffy wakes up with her face in the book, thinking that someone is hijacking her dream. She goes to talk to Willow at work and tells her that she thinks she's getting messages from two sources now: the Slayer line, and the fairy hacking into her brain.
Willow comes over to Buffy's place to investigate by staying up and guarding her while she sleeps and dreams - Buffy mentions that she misses hanging out with her bestie like this.
In her next dream, Buffy speaks to the fairy directly, who tells her "I lay dream eggs in people's ears. Nightmares, too. But without the Seed, my powers have weakened. I needed to ride in on someone else's dream wave to talk to you." She points out the First Slayer, who is in the background apparently talking to another Buffy - this one dressed in the outfit she wore in the "Time of Your Life" arc.
Buffy and the fairy go running after the Slayer, while the fairy explains that she meant to punish Buffy with nightmares for impersonating Buffy until she found out that she was Buffy and the Buffy she thought was Buffy was an impersonator. (Are you with me?) She stuck around to pass on something she discovered that Buffy needs to know, but she won't impart it until Buffy deals with the First Slayer, who still wants her attention.
Buffy complies, staking a vamp that's coming at her, and then they're back at the Scythe-holding garbage mound. Buffy thinks that the message is that everything is her fault for destroying the Seed; the fairy says that no, the message is that she needs to undo what she did by unlocking the key. Buffy goes for the Scythe, but it won't budge. "It's not for you," says the fairy. Willow appears. "It's for her."
Willow withdraws the Scythe easily and they talk about what needs to be done. Willow's going to take it somewhere far away in a bid to restore magic to the world. Buffy doesn't want her to go, but they say goodbye and the First Slayer is pacified.
Finally the fairy says her own piece: "Like I said, you aren't the Slayer. The Slayer's a part of you. But you're not a girl anymore." She can't or won't clarify beyond that.
Buffy wakes up and Willow is gone, leaving a note that makes it clear that she really was present in the dream and is going through with the plan. Buffy runs outside in her pajamas, still hoping for another goodbye, but then sits on the curb, holding her stomach and thinking that the fairy was right.
When she gets back to the apartment with a small bag in hand, her roommates are there asking if they can talk. They don't think it's safe to live with her in light of what happened in the last issue. Buffy hardly listens; she's rushing into the bathroom and slamming the door.
They're scared of her, she thinks, looking at her OMG POSITIVE PREGNANCY TEST. She's scared, too.
So, here's my set of the reactions that everyone who reads this book are obliged to have:
1.) I feel okay about Buffy being pregnant. She is female and she has sex sometimes and that is a combination that sometimes makes pregnancy happen. If this is crackfic then so is life.
2.) I think Angel's the father.
3.) Boy, pregnancy tests really are idiot-proof these days, huh?
And here are the reactions that nobody cares about, because HOLY CRAP BUFFY IS PREGNANT!
I really love Karl Moline's art. I think I even love it more because we don't get him all the time, and he tends to illustrate the "special occasion" issues. Everyone has such character in his hands, and such emotion. I might even look up his extra-Jossverse work; I think I'd like to read an entire series drawn by him.
It is true what they say about "The Chain" being a masterwork within the patchy history of Season 8. At the same time, it's also the most popular and acclaimed issue, and I kind of feel like reviving certain elements from it is an attempt to get Season 9 taken more seriously. The fairy (I know, I'm not spelling it the way they do, I can't help it) is a neat character, but she's lost something, and we still don't know any more about Buffy's double than we did when she died.
One thing that stood out about this issue for me was Buffy's affection for her loved ones. Finally we get to see the words "I miss Giles" - really, that's all I was asking for - and I was surprised and pleased to see how enraged she became when she saw Dawn and Xander die. That is, she saw the zompire versions of Dawn and Xander die, and she already knew she was dreaming, and she was enraged anyway. Buffy's protective nature is one of her strengths, and it's been missing lately. Even her tentative rebuilding of her friendship with Willow hit me in the right place for once: finally, they came up with a new topic and discussed it like adults, just like they used to. Their bond is even confirmed through the dream, and btw, that is news! We've seen the relationships of a few individuals transcend the mundane world, but Buffy and Willow have always been just very close friends.
It does sound like Willow will be showing up in A&F soon. How long will it take her to get there and how long will she stay? Will she see Drusilla? Didn't she already, in the IDW series? Won't they have to make reference to that or explicitly knock it out of canon?
My favorite bit of pregnancy-related speculation is probably going to be - okay, okay, honesty first, it's probably going to be about the father. But I also really love the line "Like I said, you aren't the Slayer. The Slayer's a part of you. But you're not a girl anymore." Here's my initial theory, or at least the one I like the best: Buffy's powers are going to pass into her daughter, leaving her powerless but continuing the Slayer line through genetics rather than magic. Or Slayers just naturally lose their powers when they reach a certain age, but nobody knew it before now because they all die young. The Slayer is currently a part of her - it's within her womb - but it's a power that belongs to girls, not women.
And of course the Summers descendants eventually bring us to Harth and Melaka. So there.
Honestly I really liked this issue. It's the best one of Buffy S9 so far, and even surpasses one or two of the A&F series. There are a lot of nasty things that could be done with this new development and I'm crossing my fingers that the worst of them won't come to pass, but there are a lot of good things that could happen too, and I'm really looking forward to finding out what's going to be so upsetting about the next issue.
If the baby turns out to be a boy I hope she thinks twice before naming him Rupert.