New Spike comic out today: It's totally worth the effort to track down the code you need to read it. ceciliaj has a review here.angearia has her review here.
It's fabulous and fun. norwie2010 points out that we revisit Spike's white socks, which is a guaranteed swoon for me.
I've got nothing to add. So below, just me observing that DH might as well just put out an official announcement about the Spuffiness of season 9.
First, since disbelief runs deep, let's recap:
1. Spike is the dashing hero of season 8.
2. There is deliberate compare and contrast of him with Angel which is all to his favor.
3. Buffy fantasizes about Spike within nanoseconds of Angel's departure from the premises.
None of that HAS to be a set up for Spuffy, but wait! There's more!
4. #40 puts the Spuffy scene dead center. I've already covered how easily it reads as Spuffy. We hit themes that mark key turning points in their relationship -- Spike being disinvited and being beneath Buffy. But this time it's Buffy probing to see if Spike's got feelings for her and it's Buffy who has to dive into her apartment because Spike has gotten to her.
5. And any time you get a panel of the dashing hero riding away with a voiceover from the heroine talking about always having to sleep alone...
That still hasn't been enough to persuade everyone. But there's still more!
6. The preview page has Buffy flirting with Spike, trying to get him to beg for an invite. Which means, yeah, she was hoping he'd beg for an invite back in #39, too, just like I said.
7. Joss just said Spuffy is coming. He was talking about relationships we hadn't visited in a while and about how Buffy and Spike will be together a lot and that's pure gold. You have to put them in a room together. Innuendo about what sort of room.
8. Finally Jane's comic. Read Emmie for all of this, but let's jump to the key point. Spike's whole story is about coming home to Buffy. And Buffy is the one who's been at home waiting. Look at her demanding to know where he's been. Look at her tear up when she asks if he's home for good. They haven't returned home to Sunnydale. Home is each other.
Maybe this is the mother of all Football Fakeouts -- but it'd be a ridiculously bad marketing strategy to tease a relationship literally every time you release material about the new season if you intend to ignore that relationship.
So what's the story going to be? We know Spike came home to Buffy. A good chunk of what he did to while away his time on the bug shp reminds us that he's a lover. But he hasn't revealed that to Buffy and he almost certainly never will. Meanwhile, she's been about as obvious as Buffy can get about these things. Fishing for evidence about his feelings, flirting with him to draw him out. And here making it crystal clear to the audience anyway, that Spike's answer to whether or not he's home for good matters a huge amount to her. But Spike's not looking at Buffy, though. He's looking up at the sky and talking about his bugs. He's focused on making his own life for himself because he thinks he knows she'll never be his.
Who knows if they'll ever be in lurve. But there's no doubt that Spike is hugely important to Buffy in a decidedly non-Platonic sort of way.