Like many others I felt like this issue was the best one in a very very long while, not that much happened but sometimes that's a plus. The characters could truly shine and sounded like themselves.
Ok, first we see Buffy fly around. She's more powerfull now, but non of the other slayers got their power back. Willow talks to Oz and tells him that they're going to leave as soon as possible, then she gets zapped and becomes instant power wicca once more, so do the other wiccas.
She says it comes from some big magic event in the future. Weird, as plot devices go, but hey, at least it's a hint the time travel business will connect into a bigger picture somehow (at least I never cease to hope so).
Next Buffy visits the wounded. Liked the General Custer joke. Heh.
I'm not with Riley on the "intelligence" of operation sitting duck, but he's on drugs.
Switch to Twlight, who captured Giles, Faith and Andrew. He mentions that they wont be missed because his wiccans cast a confusion spell on the slayer army that renders them unable to react effectively. Neat device, since it can also be used to explain the gullability of a lot of Twilight's followers as well as the vampires-are-great craze. Well at least it could be fanwanked to do so. With a lot of good will.
The interesting part is that he calls Giles "Buffy's trust" and Faith "Buffy's guilt". The second thing makes sense, since Faith is the one person that gets treated unfairly several times by Buffy during her redemption. Faith was the slayer gone bad, the thing Buffy is so afraid of becomming that she has real trouble to tolerate Faith and to accept that she has changed. As for Giles being Buffy's"trust", that does sound like Twilight has missed out on quite some things that went down between the two.
We see the effects of the spell as the slayer army is doing a pretty crappy job of pulling together again (maybe their strategizing was magiced too?) . Buffy wittnesses the death of an enemy soldier, who emphasizes once more that Twilight's men are indeed misled innocents more than anything else.
Then follows the part of the issue that feels most true to the show since the beginning of the season: Buffy talks with Xander about Dawn and her own feelings for him. It's so great because, like the show did, it captures the different reactions to the personal developments that went through peoples heads and turns them into the show. Buffy cracks some pedophile jokes and they banter, then they finally adress the issue of Buffy havng feelings for Xander. Xander analyzes them pretty much away with an insight and honesty that only a very good friend is capeable off.
Part of why I liked the scene so much is because it cmpletely captures the feelings I had about Buffy's love life in S8 back during the first three arcs. Emphasizing that the rather hollow feel of it was indeed deliberate (which has me hoping other things were too). Buffy feels empty, she tries to connect, desperately so, but love in a real romantic sense where the other person counts more than her own lonlyness is not part of this.
Xander also confirms his feelings for Dawn and describes them a little. I still don't get most of it, but enough to make it seem not completely empty like it did when it first came up.
Best personal moment of the season and I loved how he stood up to her. Great stuff. (Though really, find a better artist. The facial expressions were so weak, the thing was completely carried by the text)
Dawn shows up in the end and they have to deal with the godesses. Buffy comes out about her powers and does, what Willow could not do alone. She beats them back into the earth. Bye, tibetian godesses, you could have been more spectacular.
The interesting part of this page are Dawn, Xander and Kennedy's comments to Buffy when she announces she has something to show them ("a nuke", "you're a dyke", "you sacrifice a key..."). Again this brings speculations into text. Dawn seems to be as worried as many readers, that she might not survive the season and that her keyness will inevitably play a role in the whole "end of magic" business.
Willow and Buffy seal the goddesses up together and Willow tells Buffy that she thinks her powers come from a different source than Willow's own. Yes. I don't feel like speculating much about it. Its magic, it always goes by new rules in the Buffyverse.
Then Buffy tells her about Xander and Dawn and Willow claims to have known all along. Her going all Dr.Manhatten this season (with knowing the future and all) that makes sense, but why did she encourage Buffy to hit on Xander then? Just to get it out of her system?
So with knowing it's Angel beneath the mask some things make more sense, some less. Why does he still think Buffy completely trusts Giles? That makes sense, Angel never knew what happened between them and from what he learned during the first three seasons, Buffy trusts no one like Giles.
The most interesting part was the thing about Faith being Buffy's guilt. To Angel his guilt is/was the most essential part of being a hero. It's what kept him good, so I figure he sees it as a cetral piece to Buffy's goodness too.
But why doesn't he recognize Andrew? That's weird and points at something fishy maybe, either this is really an Angel from another time, or he has very bad memory and Angel's memory was eidetic last I looked. What's also weird it Angel's voice, ok, they can't give anything away, but the whole cryptic formal talk doesn't sound like him in the least.
The waiting and seeing continues and all things considered the issue has raised my optimism. The whole magic/superpowers plot is still not interesting but the personal developments came together nicely in this and that's really promising for the finale.
ETA: hehe, the cool thing about being a dreadfull legastenic is that when I read it half an hour later it never fails to entertain me ... Angel has "fotogenic" memory *headdesk*, you guys understand my ramblings still, yes?