Written by Jane Espenson
Artwork by Karl Moline
Angel/Twilight (re Sam): “Do you need her permission to be parted?”
Riley: “No, it’s okay. We’re together even when we’re not. And I’m in.”
Angel/Twilight: “Good. I just need a token of your faith.”
Riley Finn, eh? Of all the characters to give a spotlight issue to, I bet there weren’t many people who were expecting or wanting it to be the least popular of Buffy’s ex-lovers but you know what? This issue is actually the first one I’ve enjoyed in a while and it’s easily a lot better than previous unconnected but connected to Season Eight spotlight issues we’ve had as well to be frank.
Basically this issue completes the task of showing us the moment where Riley decided that he would pretend to go along with Twilight’s hair-brained machinations whilst secretly working for Buffy at the same time and the interesting part was that Sam was doing everything to encourage Riley to help his slayer ex-lover.
In a way, this actually fits in nicely with the Sam we met back in “As You Were”. She wasn’t threatened by Buffy then and she doesn’t seem to be threatened by Buffy now (well, not that much anyways) and her confidence in Riley’s faithfulness towards their marriage is actually a rather endearing thing. Riley really did bag himself a great wife when he hooked up with Sam, didn’t he?
The other interesting thing was the notion of retirement. Riley seemed more eager than Sam to leave the military days behind him and look after his parents farm and Sam was more eager to get back into the field, which her enthusiasm for tending to an erratic missile with her husband seemed to display. Based on that alone, I can see why she has natural reservations at becoming a farm hand.
It’s also through this issue that Riley and Sam go through the motions of opting for a quieter life and helping Buffy. Throughout the issue, I was torn as to whom to side with because of them raised valid points but I’m going to side with Sam. I don’t think Riley really is ready to give up his soldier career despite spending much of this issue protesting that he would and Sam did point out the good he could help achieve by helping Buffy out.
In the end, I saw Riley actually accepting both Buffy and Twilight’s offers and felt a little bad for him when he was marked but overall, the one thing the comic didn’t show us was whether or not Riley had to do anything truly unforgiveable whilst pretending to be an acolyte of the duplicitous masked man.
And then there’s the issue of Twilight. We’ve long known that he’s Angel and while months have done little to actually improve or lessen the sheer disappointment of that particular revelation, this issue did try it’s damndest to satisfyingly write itself out of the hole that Angel being Twilight has put the comics in.
There was the rather unexpected return of Whistler advising Angel that donning a mask and pretending to be Buffy’s latest enemy was a good thing but no matter how much the doom card is thrown out there, it’s still rather hollow. The good thing should’ve been Angel coming to Buffy all those months and telling her about the latest danger to the world, rather than making her think that he was a part of it for the amount of time that he did.
Whistler might have raised a point about Angel having to choose a loyalty in the same that Twilight/Angel tried to do with Riley in regards to the world or Buffy Summers but it’s still not enough to disguise that this apocalypse doesn’t feel any more epic or disastrous as the ones we’ve all seen in the series.
Also in “Riley: Commitment Through Distance, Virtue Through Sin”
Love the look of Riley and Sam on the cover of this. Regardless of the way the comics are going, quality-wise, Jo Chen keeps excelling herself with these covers.
Riley: “And like, personally, Sam? Most wives – I mean, most wives -”
Sam: “-What – don’t push their husbands at their exes? That’s good, baby. I mean I’m secure. I know you’re mine.”
I laughed when I read the bit from Whistler about Angel flattening his hair, followed by the actual image itself.
Riley: “You’re scared of quitting. Quitting this, this excitement of being the operatives who get called when a missile acts up.”
Sam: “Oh, I thought you said something else.”
Riley: “What did you think I said?”
Sam: “I thought you said I was scared of quilting.”
Riley (re Twilight): “He’d want some kind of gesture – I’d have to shoot a witch in the head or something. I can’t do that.”
Sam: “For Buffy? Oh, you sell yourself short.”
Riley: “Don’t joke. You ready?”
There are some interesting pictures of some of the Buffy writers posing for the infamous NOH8 campaign in the letter section.
Whistler: “Is he gonna sign up?”
Angel: “Riley Finn? Maybe. He’s no fan of magic. Very ‘humans first’. I don’t get what she saw in him.”
Whistler (to Angel, re Buffy): “You have to decide where your loyalty lies ... with this girl or the world.”
Chronology: None is specified as to when Riley was recruited by Angel and “Last Gleaming Part 1” came out on September 1st.
Definitely an improvement on the previous bout of disappointing issues. A few missed moments with “Riley: Commitment Through Distance, Virtue Through Sin” but overall I liked this one.
Rating: 7 out of 10.