“Angel & Faith” Season 9 comes to an epic conclusion that’s not quite as great as the end of “Buffy” Season 9, but still pretty darn good, especially with the way it charts a new course for Giles. In the end, the best thing about Season 9 in the Buffyverse is that it was split into two monthly titles, rather than one 40-issue run.
The second batch of 10 issues in “Angel & Faith” Season 9 starts with a slight midseason dip in quality. It’s nice to catch up with Connor and Gunn, but distracting for readers of the IDW “Angel” comics who know a different continuity. The last five issues of this batch are gold, though: first the most Ripper-esque Giles story to date, and then a pitch-perfect Faith-and-Spike comedic romp. Here are my reviews of Issues 11-20:
With the tragic death of Luke Perry (1966-2019) from a stroke this past week, there’s been an influx of “Buffy” fans announcing that they loved him as Pike in the 1992 “Buffy” movie and they are rewatching the film in his honor. Some are even going so far to say they like the movie, giving it a bizarre short-term boost in cult popularity.
As with “Buffy” Season 9, “Angel & Faith” Season 9 gets off to a great start from the pen of a rookie Buffyverse writer. Christos Gage, who will go on to be the most ubiquitous of the canonical Dark Horse comics scribes, has a good grasp of the relationship between Angel and Faith. He invents new enemies from the ashes of Season 8, rightly assuming that Twilight ticked off a lot of people – both good guys and bad guys.
Writer Andrew Chambliss and artist Georges Jeanty stick the landing to conclude the character-driven yet suitably epic “Buffy” Season 9 with the five-issue “The Core.” It’s a crying shame that this marks Chambliss’ finale in the Buffyverse. He gets the saga back on track after the uneven Season 8 and keeps threads percolating for Season 10, to be written by “Angel & Faith” Season 9’s Christos Gage — who is really good, but not quite as good as Chambliss. Also in this post, I take a look at the season’s special issues.
When Spike and Willow duck out of the main “Buffy” Season 9 series, their solo adventures are told in a pair of five-issue miniseries, with Spike brooding over his purpose in life without Buffy, and Willow seeking a way to regain some of her magic powers.
In this next batch of 10 issues, Season 9 becomes slightly less Buffy-centric, somewhat to its detriment, but Andrew Chambliss continues to be a sharp writer and I trust he knows where the wider narrative is going. The only major misstep in this batch, surprisingly, is when “Buffy” veterans Jane Espenson and Drew Z. Greenberg step in for two issues to tell the origin story of side character Billy.
After Season 8, Dark Horse’s canonical “Buffy” comics do what the TV series did more than a decade prior: split into two series. While “Angel & Faith” go off to do their own thing, “Buffy” Season 9 sets up shop in San Francisco and welcomes excellent new lead scribe Andrew Chambliss, who had written for “Dollhouse.” Here are my reviews of Issues 1-10 of the 25-issue Season 9.
IDW produced three “Angel” one-shots in the final three years of its run. All of these double-length issues are finales of sorts, and there’s a touch of comedy or lightness to them – “Last Angel in Hell” puts a bow on the “After the Fall” era, “Lorne: Music of the Spheres” is the final Lorne story and “Yearbook” is the last publication in IDW’s Angelverse.
Throughout my reread of IDW’s Angelverse work, it’s become increasingly clear that the “Spike” titles tend to be better than the “Angel” titles. There are some exceptions: “Spike: The Devil You Know” is not very good, and some “Angel” yarns are outstanding. But generally, your odds of getting a great tale are better with “Spike,” and it’s because Brian Lynch – with whom Joss Whedon co-wrote the canonical “Angel: After the Fall” — writes most of them, and Franco Urru does the art for most of Lynch’s work.