Here’s a quick summary of Issue #23:
This issue opens with Andrew attempting to find a way to give the disembodied “Digital Jonathan” some sort of physical form. He’s interrupted when the demon known as The Sculptor shows up, telling him that he will build Jonathan a new body in return for Andrew delivering Buffy’s slayer scythe.
Elsewhere, Buffy, Willow, and Earth’s Mystic Council handle another dimensional breach, but it is a close call that leaves everyone somewhat uncomfortable with the current situation. In the end, it’s decided that the powers of the Council will be increased using the VAMPYR book. When Giles helps with the process, he also ends up taking a Council member’s offer to visit the land of the Fae Folk (where one is judged by their character alone).
In the end, Andrew pulls a big one over on The Sculptor, pretending to deliver the scythe, but really leading the demon into a confrontation with Buffy and the rest of the Scooby Gang. Buffy slays the monster, but Jonathan, now in a new body courtesy of The Sculptor, curses Andrew for his betrayal and escapes while vowing to only look out for himself from now on. The issue closes with Andrew’s friends telling him they’re proud of him for making the right choice and facing reality “...even if it hurts.”
Andrew continues to have a stellar season (courtesy of Christos Gage)! Andrew Wells is a character the writers of Buffy (TV and comic book series) have been attempting to integrate into the Scooby Gang for a long time (circa Buffy: Season 7). Despite these valiant efforts by various talented writers, Andrew never truly “gelled” with the rest of the cast for this Buffy fan. Throughout both Season 8 and 9, Andrew seemed to repeatedly learn the same lessons regarding trusting his new friends, being honest, and doing the right thing. Still, it never seemed to stick with the character. Well, in this season, under the shepherding of Gage, the lost ground is quickly being recovered. Andrew’s coming out as gay earlier in the season was long overdue, gracefully handled, and a huge step for the character, as is his advancement in maturity that takes place in the current issue. At this point, Andrew has been through more than enough to make him understand the value of his friends and the difference between right and wrong, so it was absolutely refreshing to see Gage solidify this progression in the character. Andrew’s acceptance of his past sins and the Scooby gang’s genuine, unfiltered support of their friend in the final pages form a perfect, necessary moment this character has deserved for some time now.
Look closely, friends. Andrew just officially became an official Scoobie.
A gorgeous cover image by Steve Morris. I guess it should almost be expected at this point, but Morris has been delivering some truly breathtaking Buffyverse artwork this season. This month’s cover is a perfect example.
Speaking of artists, did you know Megan Levens is still knocking it outta the park? 'Cause she is, and you really need to know that. We Buffy fans are really getting spoiled with the caliber of creators involved in Season 10.
Buffy and Spike “Sack Time” (of whatever sort they fancy)! Because, honestly, they deserve it.
Buffy and Willow growing apart . . . naturally. Boy, does this smart. Probably because it’s written so naturally. Reaching your third decade on this planet usually means you’ve witnessed a few of your strongest friendships dissolve or transform over the years, and while I have hope that Buffy and Willow will mend this bridge, the opposite seems like the more realistic (and relatable) possibility. As Buffy puts it, “We don’t want to fight, but we keep butting heads anyway...”
Big pain may be coming up around the bend...
Digital/New Jonathan. I don’t know if it is the lack of a soul (pretty good theory, actually) that’s affecting Digital Jonathan, but the guy’s kind of a jerk. While he had his struggles and faults during his final appearance in Buffy: Season 7, the actual Jonathan seemed to have grown and matured, having finally learned to care for something larger than himself. Then, Andrew stuck a knife in his heart.
Given that the newly embodied Jonathan (aptly named “New Jonathan” by yours truly) makes a declaration of caring only for himself from now on, perhaps its' safe to assume that New Jonathan is also functioning thematically as a foil for Andrew. New Jonathan is a stunted version of the character who hasn’t advanced past a point in his character progression that is very close to where Andrew was stuck for multiple seasons. In many ways, New Jonathan is a representation of “Old Andrew” (solely focused on his own needs, always looking for the quick and easy solution) and New Jonathan’s exit at the end of the issue further punctuates Andrew’s opposite choice, highlighting his character advancement and gained maturity.
The Ugly (Fan Buzz, that is . . . )
Fan reaction for this issue has been on the positive side for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #23, with many readers calling it a strong issue. So far, the issue has received good reviews from Geeked Out Nation, The Fandom Post, IGN, Wicked Horror, and a great YouTube review/recap from idkmybffjill730.
The members of Earth’s Mystic Council seem kinda familiar. The various members are obviously nods to popular characters from various horror movies (The Ring, Hellraiser, etc.), but apparently I wasn’t the only one who was reminded of another Whedon connection. One commenter over at Whedonesque.com mentioned that it “looks like some of the escaped horrors from Cabin in the Woods got organized.”
Is Spike losing his taste “people food?” Some fans complained that William’s taste for human food seems to have changed. (I just figured it wasn’t Wheatbix, so...) One fan put it appropriately when they stated that “he just hasn't been the same since they took the blooming onion off the menu.”
That's all for now, Scoobies. I’ll be back soon with my review of the latest issue of Angel & Faith. Keep those stakes sharp!
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer