At the end of Issue 15, Fred asks Angel: “Can we call ourselves Angel Investigations?” But, nostalgia aside, writer Victor Gischler’s “Angel & Faith” Season 10 isn’t about the re-forming of the detective agency, but rather about a disparate group of people coming together to defend their home neighborhood of Magic Town in London. For being loners at heart, the title characters sure do attract allies, and the rich cast of characters is starting to make this title a page-turner; the drama is often low-key, but intensely based on the journeys of these individuals. This batch begins with the best “Angel & Faith” arc so far:
After their strong run on “Angel & Faith” Season 9, writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs switch over to “Buffy” for the 30-issue Season 10. Off the bat, the quality of their work drops, as this season seems less planned out. The notion of the rules of magic being rewritten in the “Vampyr” book is a good one, but this idea doesn’t develop any new wrinkles. Characters warn about its “Monkey’s Paw” traits, using that exact reference several times. While this is a step down from Andrew Chambliss’ outstanding “Buffy” Season 9, it’s not bad, just slow out of the gates. Here’s my look at Issues 1-10:
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.
My reviews looking back at “Buffy” Season 8 continue as we enter the second half of the 40-issue season with several standalones (to borrow TV show parlance), which nonetheless move the narrative forward, and one epic five-parter. SPOILER WARNING: If you are reading these issues for the first time, I will analyze the character of Twilight based on my knowledge of Twilight’s true identity, which isn’t revealed until later in the season.
Afew years after “Buffy” went off the air, fans got the exciting news that the story would continue in comics, with Joss Whedon overseeing the project. Dark Horse even labels Whedon the “executive producer,” to provide a sense that this is another season of “Buffy,” in a different medium. Most comics prior to this became non-canon (with some exceptions, such as “Fray”), but while all Dark Horse comics from this point forward are canon (the situation with IDW’s “Angel” and “Spike” is more confusing), are they any good? Let’s begin our revisiting of the post-TV era of “Buffy,” which would eventually expand all the way to Season 12:
Often when a comic book series ends, that final issue will sit in its slot on the racks for a long time afterward, since there is no next issue to replace it. My enduring memory of “Tales of the Vampires” (December 2003-April 2004) is seeing Issue 5 on the rack for a year or so. It was the last issue of Dark Horse’s original “Buffy” run, leaving a three-year gap before Season 8 began in 2007. (It wasn’t a total dark age: There were “Buffy” novels throughout this time, and IDW’s “Angel” comics started in 2005.)
The most heavily marketed “Buffy” video game, “Chaos Bleeds,” got both comic book (June 2003) and novel (August 2003) adaptations. Usually video game tie-ins are red flags for readers, because there’s a danger they will be the literary equivalent of watching someone play the game. On the other hand, authors are often aware of this danger, and they have been known to dodge it. In “Star Wars” Legends, for instance, “Republic Commando” and “X-Wing” are among the elite book series.
Alot of comic series whimper to their conclusion, but “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Classic” is not one of them. It saves the best for last, ironically by going back to the start of the timeline and filling in the events between “The Origin” and “Welcome to the Hellmouth” (Season 1, episode 1) in its final three arcs. Here’s a look at the last two, which — like “Viva Las Buffy!” (Issues 51-54) — are rare spin-off yarns that qualify as essential reads if you want a full picture of Buffy’s hero’s journey.
X-Men” veteran Scott Lobdell and “Deadpool” co-creator Fabian Nicieza become the third and final regular helmer(s) on “Buffy Classic,” following Andi Watson, who did uneven work while being handcuffed by continuity, and Tom Fassbender and Jim Pascoe, who found ways to tell creative stories on the comic pages. Out of the gates, Lobdell and Nicieza (who had previously written “The Death of Buffy: Lost and Found”) impressively raise Fassbender/Pascoe’s already high bar.
Tom Fassbender and Jim Pascoe wrap up their run on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Classic” with eight more issues that demonstrate their excellent knowledge of the TV show’s narrative and character arcs. They provide an emotional grace note to “The Body” (and Fabian Nicieza’s “Lost and Found” does the same for Buffy’s death) and give us the lead-up story to the resurrection of Buffy at the start of Season 6 — the most important “Buffy” spinoff fiction to date.