After the preview pages, Faith and Angel continue their conversation about Angel becoming human and how it's tied into the Shanshu prophecy (which apparently Giles knew about). Faith notes that Angel's refusal to consider it is marked with hesitation.
She keeps fretting over it through a montage page wherein the two of them beat up a cyclopean demon. The next page is a montage of Fraser's Mohra blood customers talking about their mixed experiences healing loved ones. Faith and Angel talk about what it means and conclude that the blood is real but they need to know more about Mohra demons.
They find a source in an old friend of Giles, an aged man called Alasdair Coames. They meet with him in his own house, which is full of the Giles-type books and antiques, but also a variety of creatures: faeries, a chimera, a tiny adorable dragon, and a few pairs of eyes peeking out from under things. Angel is petting a normal cat (Fantastic Donut???) and asking, "You're the same Alasdair Coames who fought in the Ley Line War of '78?" (He looks impressed!) Coames admits that he is, but says that times have changed and now he's no archmage at all.
He does, however, know a thing or two about Mohra demons, all of it in line with what we learned in "I Will Remember You". He suggest that the truckloads of salt needed to keep the captive Mohra alive would leave a paper trail that they can follow.
Coames declines payment for his time, and as Faith and Angel are leaving, Faith gets a call on her cell. She says she has to go help her girls and that she doesn't need him to come. It turns out that Nadira has started a fight in a pub, herself against an entire team of jocks (forgive my ignorance but I'm not sure if there's evidence for what sport they represent). Faith breaks it up neatly by offering free drinks for all of them (instead of showing them her jugs, as she says she once would have done), and the girls drag Nadira outside.
Nadira keeps raging for a panel or two, then curls up and asks what's the matter with her - she should be able to just get drunk or run up her credit card like a normal person. Faith has a nice response for this: Slayers aren't normal, and they can't pretend to not have the power that makes them jones for a fight. "As long as you have power...you're gonna feel the need to use it."
Nadira, not sure she should be trusted, asks Faith what she should do, and Faith says its her call. Nadira insists that Faith is the grownup - boy, does that not go over well. Then Coames shows up in the alley, quite unexpectedly, and Faith warns him away from the girls and then misreads his intentions as hitting on her.
His real intention is to tell her that he's figured out what Angel is up to with the Mohra blood, and that resurrecting Giles would have terrible consequences for the world. He tells her she has to stop him, and she again laments being made "the responsible one", though Coames claims it's her own doing.
We next see Faith and Angel attending a party at a mansion, both of them dressed sharply and Angel holding his game face the entire time. Everyone is there for a Mohra blood auction that Fraser is holding. He displays a dozen or so green bottles and then proves that they're legitimate by bringing out the captive demon, who seems to be bound to an enchanted slab of stone. Angel and Faith immediately take the opportunity to kill the guards and release the demon by busting the gems on the stone.
Angel tells the Mohra that it needs to help them fight their way outside, but the Mohra simply thanks him for freeing it and then chooses to die with honor, and plunges a sword into its forehead gem. One of the customers immediately sees that the only Mohra blood that will ever be available again is in the bottles on the table, and there's an instant riot in the mansion to get at it. The table tips over, breaking most of the bottles, but Faith grabs two.
Angel, who should know better, says that things could not possibly have gone worse. Nash and Pearl come in through the window, looking for Mohra blood and happy to see Angel looking so easy to kill. Angel has a panel of shock and guilt, and then tells them he's going to explain why he betrayed them.
Page turn, he's back in game face, saying "You're psychotic bastards. And you need to be put down." Faith, seeing the two of them for the first time, thinks that it explains why Nadira is so messed up - and Angel too. She joins the fight, even more resolved to help him kill the monsters, including the one inside him.
Buffy and Severin are still in the alley after Severin shows her his power. He doesn't know how it works; he wants her to help him figure it out. She whisks him away from the "crime scene" and explains that she's getting the blame for the bodies, and says that if he wants to help, he can give her a place to sleep.
The cops talk to Anaheed; Spike talks to the little realtor gnome, who says he set up the "something nasty" searching for Buffy in "a place where no one will find him". We see the red dredlock'd demon sitting in a cell in Alcatraz, looking at a newspaper article about Buffy.
Buffy wakes up in Severin's plush apartment. He brings her coffee and tells her his story: he's a trust fund kid (no mention of his parents), and he wanted to be a vampire. His girlfriend had a plan to get herself sired by an old friend-turned-vampire, and then sire Severin in turn. He describes being horrified by watching his girlfriend drained, and then seeing her turn into a mindless (quite ugly!) beast when she woke. She attacked him and his powers were involuntarily activated, dropping her as soon as he touched her.
All this is told in flashback frames, and then we return to Buffy and Severin talking in his apartment. Buffy says that neither Severin would have been better off as a "normal" vampire, and that she would have killed them both. He says that all vampires are now waking up feral, and that he kills them and any vampire still siring them. Buffy works out the connection to the Seed based on the timing of events.
The cops visit Xander and Dawn, and then Buffy texts them, Willow, Spike, and Andrew, asking them to meet at Severin's place. Willow and Xander come, and Buffy calls Willow again, using Dawn's phone because she thinks Willow will refuse to talk to her. Willow picks up, but isn't receptive until Buffy starts talking about consequences of breaking the Seed, and then she consents to attend the meeting through speakerphone.
Buffy introduces Severin only briefly, putting priority on investigating the change in vampires. Dawn brings up the book that Giles left Buffy - Severin's interested, but Buffy says she can't go back to get it. Willow and Buffy talk about how demons can no longer cross dimensions to inhabit human bodies, meaning the new vampires are without demons to control them. Xander dubs them "zompires".
There's argument about the next step. Xander, Willow, and Dawn don't want to get involved, but they do want Buffy to go to the cops before things get worse. Severin wants Buffy to help him take out a nest, saying she can't trust the police. Xander and Dawn leave, asking Buffy to be careful, however she decides.
Spike finds the demon in Alcatraz; they have it out briefly, and the demon, Eldre Koh, claims that he's only seeking Buffy to thank her. The end of magic released him from the prison where he was held in this realm (wrongly, according to him), and now he swears he's bound to Buffy. Spike doesn't buy it and brings up the rumors he's heard about someone trying to off Buffy. Koh says those aren't about him, but the prophesied "Siphon", who rips mystical energy from all he touches and is supposedly headed straight for Buffy.
Next page, we see Buffy and Severin headed for the nest that he told her about. He says not to worry about him; he gets stronger with each vampire he kills. After they take out the nest, he says, he might even be stronger than her.
On the final page we - and Buffy - see that the lair is already full of dead bodies. Severin turns to Buffy with an evil grin and energy crackling all around him. "I know," he says.
I'll come back and add some of my own thoughts later. I'm a little underwhelmed right now but I don't think that's totally the comic's fault; I just need some distance from it.
Everyone's reading IWRY, right?
Based on the last page we saw of A&F, my prediction is that Nash and Pearl are going to win the epic battle with Angel and Faith, grab one of the bottles of Mohra blood, and force-feed it to Angel, because the chumps don't know that he actually wants to be human. Nobody's going to die (these seem to be villains who are going to stick around for a while), and there will be one bottle of blood left (note Faith holding two of them at the end), keeping the resurrect-Giles subplot open for a bit longer. Whistler will be revealed as manipulating Nash and Pearl into doing exactly this, putting him back into the good guy camp.
It's a prediction coming mostly from a place of "this is what I want to happen", but I think it's got at least a chance.
The art is seriously getting better and better. I love the way Isaacs draws Faith. Also Angel's game face, and mmmmm, the clothes in that last issue, for both characters. I do miss the Chen covers already, but Steve Morris has been making me pretty happy too. And although I ultimately prefer Isaacs, that's not at all meant as a slight against Jeanty, who I still think deserves a lot more praise than he gets. The real strength of a successful comic artist, which I think a lot of readers ignore, is versatility. A lot of artists have one little weak point, like backgrounds or expressions or animals, that can ruin the whole stew. None of that going on in Season 9, though I'll admit I'm starting to get frustrated by Jeanty's hit-or-miss likenesses.
So hey. Itty-bitty dragon in A&F. That was almost as great as when Angel was leaning on a gargoyle.
Buffy's series is improving. Slowly. I really don't have much to complain about in regard to the writing; it's the content that's bothering me. All I want at this point is some kind of attention to all the secondary characters and their relationships with each other and Buffy, and all I'm getting is "Scoobies: still fractured!"
Eldre Koh is alright with me, because he's cute and likes living in an abandoned prison, but I'm really not buying the "twist" at the end the issue. Severin's going to remain Buffy's pal in some capacity or another. And not just because he's cute. I wonder how long it'll take for them to try out his powers on Spike? That's actually a legitimate way to turn him human, but since I don't think that will ever happen, there's got to be some catch that slides around it. If they just ignore the possibility I'm going to give them a very, very disapproving look.
Okay, that's rambles enough. Maybe by next month I'll have thought of something more to say.