Opens with one question resolved right off the bat: not all the mysterious victims are women. This one's a young guy in a tie. As the detectives discuss him, the camera pans out to show that he's just one in a room full of bodies like him.
Back to Buffy, Willow, Spike, and the loan demon. He threatens Buff with bad credit; she retaliates by choking him, but Willow and Spike pull her off, reminding her of the futility of killing him. The demon gets all sad-faced and talks about being trapped in this realm and needing a job. Buffy finds an ATM and gives him all her money, which he says isn't nearly enough.
A few more logistic issues are covered when Spike asks Buffy what happened to all her jewel thief money - it seems she gave it back when Riley negotiated an amnesty between Slayers and Interpol. (Go, Riley!) Demon departs with a final warning, and Willow picks up her argument about how Buffy isn't seeing how her actions affected everyone. She leaves, and Spike picks up his warnings about "rumblings".
Another demon (kind of a cute one, like orphan child cute, not Fillion cute) breaks into Buffy's apartment and begins searching it. Tumble hears him and thinks it's Buffy, but the demon is gone out the window before Tumble can offer ramen.
Severin and his partner are in the morgue looking at the unmarked bodies and files and pictures on them. Severin has found missing persons files for several of the bodies, but all are from the '60s or earlier, and there's no sign of aging. He comes up with the vampire theory ("Have you been watching reality TV lately?").
A sharp-dressed man is running from a vampire. Buffy hops down from a rooftop to save the day, thinking all the while about her Seed and money issues. The stranger says he can help, but Buffy orders him to leave. She stakes the vamp and is immediately caught in a spotlight and at a cop's gunpoint.
Next page, we see her in cuffs and in an interrogation room. Our detectives are back, asking her if any of the photographs they have (of their "victims") look familiar. They know she's a Slayer, though apparently there's some info on her that the feds won't give them. Buffy educates them on how a vampire turns to dust when it's slain, which is immediately turned on her as she's reminded of the vampire she just "killed".
The detectives argue privately about the case and conclude that they're not letting her go until they learn more. They return to the interrogation room and she's gone. We see her on the rooftop outside looking down at some shouting police officers, wondering if she should have waited for a lawyer.
At Xander and Dawn's apartment, Buffy comes in through the window to find them watching her face on TV. Xander congratulates her for being a fugitive. Dawn asks who's really responsible for the bodies, and Buffy says she'll have to find out or never show her face in public again. She then asks for a place to crash and is denied - Xander and Dawn have apparently been fighting, and Xander's occupying the couch. Buffy doesn't press the issue, but she's not too happy about it.
Spike finds her at the top of a skyscraper. He asks how she got pinched, she explains and laments being the Chosen One. He says he'd be dead if she wasn't, and that he's investigating her pursuer(s). She seems cheered as she leaves, but still worried about evading the law while she's trying to solve the case, especially since she almost instantly spots another vampire.
This one's fighting the same guy as last time. Again he says he can help, and "I'm a Slayer. Like you." Buffy forgoes the obvious gender jokes to point out his lack of stake, and runs off after the vamp, chasing him into an alley. As she's about to finish him, she sees that at least a dozen more have cornered her there, and the original one leaps at her.
Close on the vampire's face as he begins steaming and then shifting from game face into a human face. The stranger is revealed behind the body as it falls, his eyes gone white, saying "I told you I could help." Buffy is fascinated and asks "How what why, please."
Magical Slayer Boy explains "He's not a vampire anymore," and the camera pans out to a lot of markless bodies once more. "None of them are."
"You trying to put me out of a job?" asks Buffy. Then she smiles. "'Cause I might be okay with that."
My own thoughts:
On my second reading of the second issue I noticed for the first time that Willow's haircut is deliberately uneven. I am displeased, and miss Ren Faire Willow.
Now, the new guy, Boy Slayer. Forget what I said in my description; the detective isn't Severin, the Boy Slayer is Severin. I like him. For a new character who's barely had a squeak of dialogue so far, I like him rather quite a lot. He's cute and he's got an anachronistic vulnerability and his power is hella power. He might be just the thing.
But he's a new guy! We're not even supposed to care about the new guy! Why am I having these thoughts?!
Probably, alas, because the old guys aren't giving me anything to be happy about. Even the plot development doesn't come from them: Buffy's conversations with Willow and Spike are basically a repeat of their conversations in the last issue, which were basically a repeat of the same ones in S8 #40. It's no wonder the relationships between the Scoobies are already appearing strained; Willow must have taken some lessons on pointless nagging from Kennedy before she gave her the dropkick.
So although Buffy isn't at her level best in this issue, she still has a lot more of my sympathy than anyone else (except cute Master Severin). Giles - hey guys, you remember Giles, right? Tall British chap, glasses fixation, made reading sexy? Anyone? No? Alright, well I was going to say that Giles made a point of steering Buffy back onto her original mission. She's meant to slay vampires and make the world safer a little bit at a time. Here, that's what she's doing, and instantly she's informed from every side that this is wrong. The law's against her, and those who know better aren't offering any support but don't want her to lead a normal life either. Of course she's going to start feeling sorry for herself. She can't even honor the memory of her dead mentor without it turning into consequences for not spending that time on working or sleeping.
Now, if you've been following my Season 8 thoughts, you know I'm a big supporter of Xander/Dawn, and possibly that the last issue blew some holes in that. This one made them bigger. If Buffy can't depend on those two, they can't depend on each other. What really got under my skin about them kicking her out in her time of need, though, was that she didn't even fight it. There were plenty of good logical points that she could have brought up (why can't she share the bed with Dawn?), but instead she just accepted that they didn't want her, and left. That's a crumbling family if I ever saw one.
Apparently it's important to Buffy that those who can have normal lives, have them. I'm on board with that, but Dawn is no self-absorbed sideline victim, and this is beneath her. Xander...well, he probably deserves the couch, but I wish we knew why.
Okay, time for some ship-talk. Since there's dialogue between Buffy and Spike in this issue, everyone's scouring it for meaning and coming up with contrasting answers. So if the question is "Is this a sign of impending/existing Spuffy?", my answer is, oh hell yes it is. There's no way this season is going by without putting these two characters into a mayonnaise jar together, and all the cues for a standard progression through a romantic relationship are there. It started with Buffy's Cinemax daydream and calling him her "dark place", and continued with the heat being switched off and replaced by a reestablishment of their friendship. From here they'll move into flirtation, then Buffy having some serious thoughts about what Darkplace means to her, then some arguments with each other and some teamfighting of nasties. Buffy confesses she's lonely; Darkplace smokes a lot and is always there for her. Bake for 25 issues at 350º.
Buffy/Spike is finally being realized, and it's kind of lame.
Thus far, I wouldn't change anything about Darkplace's role, and I'm pretty happy with the main plot line unfolding. What I would like to see is more from the perspective of the other characters: Xander and Dawn talking without Buffy being there, for instance, or Willow brooding on her own. Hopefully there's time for that in later issues, and it's not just a narrative choice to make everything either Buffyvision or Plotvision.
Final thought: really happy about the art this time. Not only Jeanty's poses and expressions (these days his Dawn looks almost as good as his Buffy, and I like what he's doing with Darkplace too), but the colorist's work. For a few days I had the issue open on my desk, and found myself admiring the pretty jewel tones of the page I had randomly left it on. I got the Steve Morris cover; personally I think the "Freefall" theme is kind of fun.
Anyone want to have some belated talk about this issue?