I don't know if there was an alterna-cover for this issue, but my comic book store only had the dark Willow cover. Which I'm fine with, though it's not exactly representative of the contents of the issue. My vote is for one part psych-out, two-parts appealing to the heterosexual male crowd, though it's entirely possible that it's foreshadowing for Willow going darkish again and/or darkishness in her past absence.
Opening panel: " 'My love.' He called me 'my love.' "
pageturn: "And then I threw up in my mouth a little." And it's Ethan Rayne. blah blah blah creepy affectionate nicknames, dreamspace, Nurse Buffy in a cuddly chains threesome with naked Angel and Spike ("It's just... ah, been a slow year").
Willow and Amy air-battling. Wow, Amy's dark magic as bugs crawling over Willow.
WIllow: "You think I'm fighting you. // I'm just absorbing your mojo. // So I can decode it."
Xander: "Ladies and other ladies... // the indescribable Rosenberg."
Willow: "The army was the pressing issue. Light show's a distraction."
Amy: "So's the army."
And we go all pixelated around the edges as we move back to Buffy's dreamspace.
Amy: "Now you're starting to make this interesting. // What else you got?"
Xander: "Say it with me now: // Fee fi fo..."
pageturn, though obviously we know what's coming: Dawn: "...F%$#ing fum."
Willow: "Language, sweetie. How come you're a giant?"
Dawn: "We totally have to talk. Are you evil again?"
Willow: "It'll fade. // She just really pissed me off."
Buffy: "Amy's doing this?"
Ethan: "I didn't know her name. // I can't see outside myself, but I connected with her, and she saw me."
I really wanna know what Amy's done that's gotten chaos-worshiping Ethan so keen to get back at her.
Buffy: "Nice place. I'm starting to miss my giant dragon."
Willow: "Serious magic is kinda like improv, Dawn. You can't ust stop it cold; you gotta adapt."
WIllow gives her angry speech about someone in the room being in love with Buffy and how everyone's gonna close their eyes. The way the panels cut, I almost thought Buffy woke up before anyone kissed her. I guess the fact that we have Willow's "okay?" over open-eyed Xander right before Buffy wakes up is supposed to make us think it's Xander (since that's been heavily suggested last issue) but I actually kinda think it's Willow. I guess in part because Joss is very fond of psych-outs in this arc so far. (Though it could totally be some random Slayer, or something else I haven't thought of.)
I love Buffy's "Cinnamon buns!"
Mm, Giles negotiating with the dinosaur-esque monster.
Andrew continues to look nothing like Andrew. And oh, so gay, "You'd be bored stiff" with the scantily clad women (strip poker, I imagine) in the background. Also: "stiff" (I"m twelve, shuddup).
Xander and Renee do snarky banter in which she says, "You're so butch." If they do end up making Xander/Buffy canon I now want her to hook up with a girl :)
Willow" "Yeah, it's been a funky time. // We'll get into it."
Buffy: "Well, you you been? How's Kennedy? Are you still -- "
Willow: "She died."
And we get Joss's second big psych-out of the issue. I like its culmination: "I always tell that wrong." I also enjoy Willow's casual knowledge: "Yeah, what'd she do? Bone a thricewise?"
Buffy: "We're being played, Xander. // I'm not liking it."
I can almost see SMG's pout in that panel, even though it doesn't actually look like her.
Amy: "Great big all-powerful earth-mother witch goddess.... // and she still falls for the rope-a-dope."
Okay, so the people who guessed Amy's boyfriend was Warren were right. At least the comic version doesn't squick me hard like the actual scene (which got played on the Previouslies for like the rest of the season) did. I still have zero interest in his return.