Dark Horse’s “Angel” comic series ends its run with a surprising but appealing smaller scale. With the “Buffy” characters facing a major threat in their Season 11, Angel would have to be seriously sidetracked to not help out, and new writer Corinna Bechko (“Star Wars: Legacy Volume II”) finds a perfect way to occupy him: He’s traveling through the past. While this might seem like the most epic concept so far, “Angel” Season 11 maintains a personal scope. There are just three main characters – but only two at a time, since Illyria and Fred share a body – and the three time-travel stops reflect important moments from their pasts.
Angel & Faith” wraps Season 10 with the five-part “A Tale of Two Families” (Issues 21-25, December 2015-April 2016), which affirms the themes I’ve remarked on in previous posts. A makeshift family has formed around Angel in Magic Town; they are voluntarily drawn to him based on the good example he sets. This contrasts with Archaeus, who recruits vampire minions with the promise of power.
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:
Angel & Faith” Season 10 should really be called “Angel. And Faith,” at least for the first 10 issues. The co-leads have completely different story arcs, although both benefit from the moodier, noir-style look from artist Will Conrad and colorist Michelle Madsen.
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.
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 final stretch of the 40-issue season. We finally learn the identity of Twilight, which only raises more questions. So many questions.
In addition to the 40 main issues and three one-shots, “Buffy” Season 8 also features five “MySpace/Dark Horse Presents” e-comics from the waning days of that social media platform. None of these short stories are essential, but a few of them reinforce this new era where vampires are celebrities instead of monsters.
In addition to the 40 regular issues of “Buffy” Season 8, three one-shots flesh out specific aspects of the saga: what it’s like to be a street-level vampire in this new era, how Willow gets her superpowers between Seasons 7 and 8, and how and why Riley joins Twilight’s organization in order to spy on him. SPOILER WARNING: I will discuss Twilight’s real identity in the “Riley” section.