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.
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.
Writers Tom Fassbender and Jim Pascoe begin the second major run of consistent authorship on Dark Horse’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Classic” in steadier fashion than Andi Watson’s work early in the series. The new writers wonderfully capture the gang’s voices, and after getting their feet wet in the first five issues, they unleash confident, daring storytelling on the four-part “False Memories.”
This question has been creeping into the back of my mind throughout the “Buffy” franchise’s three seasons of official continuations from Dark Horse Comics, but it’s especially evident now, early in Season 10 of “Buffy” and “Angel & Faith”: Are these titles running out of good ideas?
Interviews with “Firefly” staffers often include the question of “What story ideas were never produced?” As such, we know they were kicking around episodes about Kaylee having to go undercover as a Companion, and the Alliance accidentally producing a herd of mutant zombie cattle (yes, for real), but we’ll probably never see those stories.