UPDATED: Twilight Unmasked in "Buffy" #33

Late Wednesday afternoon, CBR News received the following cover art for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8" #33 revealing that the previously blurred out face of the series main villain Twilight is actually that of President Barack Obama.

No explanation or official word from Dark Horse accompanied the cover art, but CBR will contact series editor Scott Allie for a follow up tomorrow morning.

This Is A Developing Story. Check back with CBR later more information. The original story follows below.

Mon, December 2nd, 2009 at 10:28AM (PST)

With Dark Horse's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8" nearing its fortieth and final issue, it's time for the Big Bad to reveal himself. Throughout the comic series, a direct continuation of the "Buffy" television show, a mystery villain named Twilight has worked in the shadows, orchestrating complex and nefarious schemes to topple Buffy and her organization of Slayers. In the Jane Espenson-penned arc that wrapped with issue #30, now on sale, Buffy, Dawn, Xander, Willow, and their paramilitary team of Slayers and Wiccans retreated to the mountains of Tibet, where they reunited with Oz and hatched a plan to go under the radar by shedding their powers.

This gambit proved to be for naught, however, as Twilight's forces found them anyway, putting Team Slayer at a significant disadvantage. Redirecting their discarded Slayer and Wiccan energies to summon the help of some old gods, Buffy's crew thought they might even the odds, but instead their actions seem to have forced both sides into retreat.

"Buffy" creator Joss Whedon returns to write issue #31, on sale in January, before "Identity Crisis" and "Book of Lies" author Brad Meltzer takes over for the four-issue "Twilight" arc with #32. CBR News has learned that during the course of Meltzer's run on the title, Twilight's identity will be revealed, in issue #33, to be exact. We spoke with editor Scott Allie about the upcoming reveal and the series thus far.

CBR News: The mystery of Twilight's identity has been percolating throughout "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8" since the start, sometimes in the background and sometimes front and center. What do we know so far about this person's methods and goals?

Scott Allie: We don't know a lot. We've really been trying to keep it a mystery. There are hints, but the info we've put out there is vague enough that I don't think readers are sure of what they do know about him. He's orchestrated a major plan around Buffy and the Slayer organization, and he seems to be capable of turning tables on people. Readers recently learned that Riley was a double agent for Buffy; but did Twilight in fact KNOW that Riley was a double agent? It looks like he did. That shows you the depth of his strategy. He seems to know Buffy pretty well. We hinted that he might have fought her before, or at least has studied her fighting techniques. But it's all pretty vague.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say Twilight is someone we've seen before. Without giving the game away (obviously), can you tell us anything about the context in which readers might be familiar with this character?

Sorry, can't say.

For obsessively meticulous fans, are the clues there? Should we know who Twilight is by now?

To be fair, no. I don't think we've put out enough clues that anyone could reasonably have figured it out. There are a lot of clues out there, but there are red herrings too, and a lot of other information - if someone could discern exactly which bits are clues to his identity ... I still think you'd be hard pressed.

Can you give us a hint: does his skin glow?

You got me! This is the biggest crossover event in the history of nerd culture, we came out and made it the title of the story, and no one figured it out. Twilight is that mopey girl, trying to save her boyfriend from the popular, hot Slayer girls.

From a storytelling standpoint, why reveal Twilight's identity now, rather than earlier or later in the series?

Earlier wouldn't've had much suspense, and later would be too "Gotcha!" Saving it to the very end, then bam, surprise, good night! We gave ourselves enough time to build up the mystery, but not make it all about that mystery, give it time to be about some other things, and then reveal it in time so that the mystery is solved before the climax really kicks in. And all during the climax, readers [will] understand the full scope of what's happening.

There have been a number of storylines running throughout this season - the popularity of vampires, Dawn's metamorphoses, Dark Willow in the far future, and more skullduggery than can be quickly recounted. How much of this plays into the Twilight arc? Do some characters (who are not Twilight) already know more than readers do about his machinations?

Well, to my way of thinking, it's all the Twilight arc. I will say that there's at least one character who's withholding what he or she knows about what's happening. But one or two of the things you mentioned definitely are not part of Twilight's plan.

As of #30, the most recent issue on sale, the Slayers and witches have given up their powers and summoned a few mad gods to turn back Twilight's forces, but the gods aren't particular about whose troops they slaughter. Before the big reveal, though, there's a Willow one-shot on the schedule, and Buffy seems to get a host of new powers. What does the playing field look like as we go into Season 8's final arcs?

The Willow one-shot is actually set prior to Season Eight, telling a little about how Willow got her new powers. But as we head into the climax, the group is splintered, and something very weird is going on with Buffy. She's feeling extra vulnerable on the one hand, but guilty and reckless on the other hand.

Georges Jeanty's cover to #32 is a tribute to "Action Comics" #1, while #33 is an homage to a classic "Amazing Spider-Man" cover. Why go this route for the "Twilight" arc?

Meltzer's idea. Buffy's gained superpowers, which has left Brad to let loose a million comics references, including one gag about Joss's oft-stated love for Kitty Pryde. The comics cover references get a lot more obscure after that first one, so each consecutive cover further rewards fans' devotion to the history of the art form.

Looking back at overseeing "Buffy Season 8" as a direct continuation of television series, how do you feel about the way it's turned out? At 33/40 issues, we're nearly to the season finale - has pacing the season over the course of several years presented any problems?

Oh, it presented tons of problems. It's hard! Keeping it going and keeping everyone working together and focus on a fairly faraway goal took some effort. Brian Vaughan's arc feels so long ago. Keeping Georges on schedule with a minimum of fill ins - when we wanted no fill ins - took a lot of planning and cooperation, and a lot of sweat from our artist. But I'm happy with the work!

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