Buffy” Season 12 should ideally be longer than four issues, and I’m guessing it would’ve been 12 issues if the timing had worked out better. But Fox brought the “Buffy” license back in-house – ending Dark Horse’s 21-year run with the title and canceling this 11-year canonical continuation of the TV series – so Joss Whedon and Christos Gage had to cram their final statement into four issues.
During the time of “Buffy” Season 11, Giles is off at high school in Los Angeles in the clunky four-issue series “Girl Blue” (February-May 2018). It’s credited to Joss Whedon and Erika Alexander (also an actress, who has a role in “Get Out”), but since I get no sense whatsoever that this is a Whedon script, I’m tempted to see it as Alexander’s work.
Just as “The X-Files” returned for shorter TV seasons in recent years, the “Buffy” comics take a crack at the miniseries format in Season 11, which is only 12 issues long, compared to at least 25 in the previous three seasons. On one hand, important side stories are missing within the overall arc of the US government’s smackdown of the supernatural population. On the other hand, Buffy shines this season – partly affirming superhero traits that have always been there, but also achieving milestones that would’ve been unthinkable in past seasons.
Season 10 started with Buffy and the gang being modest about their callings, and it ends with them realizing the mature response is to embrace their callings, because the world will be worse off they don’t. Too many bad actors will seek to fill the power vacuum. It’s a pretty great way to dig into the theme of adult responsibility, and not exactly like what we’ve seen before.
Over in the pages of Season 10, things are going well in Buffy and Spike’s relationship, so in true “Buffy” fashion, it’s time to throw a monkey wrench into the mix. It comes in the form of an old flame of Spike’s, who pops up in Issue 21. But who would that old flame be? Drusilla doesn’t work because she and Spike are in decidedly different places in terms of soul-having. His first love is intriguing, because no one gets over their first love, but he actually does get over Cecily (more than a century later) in “Spike: Old Times.” (And he gets immediate revenge on her in the non-canon but excellent “These Our Actors.”)
Igave some leeway to the start of “Buffy” Season 10, allowing writer Christos Gage to get up to speed. But the middle batch continues to be uneven, showing that he’s not quite as good as Andrew Chambliss (“Buffy” Season 9) and that he himself has taken a step back from “Angel & Faith” Season 9.
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:
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:
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.