Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Whedonversity, our column here on Multiversity here we look at the books following the extended stories from all of our favorite Joss Whedon shows (so, everything but SHIELD). Every month, Scotland’s own Colin Bell and I will sit down to discuss the books, what we like, what we don’t like, extended continuity and all that jazz, and today we’re ready and present for the beginning of Season 10 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer!”
As a note, spoilers abound — both for this issue, the show and the previous comic seasons. Gopefully you’ve had enough time to go to the store and pick up your own copy of the book (and if you haven’t, get going!).
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated by Rebekah Isaacs
New season. New rules. The age-old battle of Slayer vs. vampire is the focus of Buffy’s life once again—it’s downright nostalgic! But with all the toying with magic she’s done lately, this girl should know it’s time for another game change . . . Shouldn’t she?
* Executive produced by Joss Whedon!
* Next month, Angel & Faith returns!
“Gage and Isaacs have created a comic that all future Buffy creators should use as a model.”—Comic Book Resources
Matthew: Well, it is an exciting day, everyone! You thought the return of “Firefly” was big? Think again.
Today sees the launch of “Buffy” Season 10 #1 with a brand new creative team, Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs. The duo behind “Angel & Faith,” they’re going to be taking the series in a brand new direction, having previously been helmed by Andrew Chambliss for Season 9 with Georges Jeanty on art. And we’ve all (presumably) read the new issue by now, so it’s time for us to talk about it.
Colin. Hello. As someone who is all caught up in the Buffyverse, tell us: what did you think of the launch to Season 10?
Colin: *organ sound* dahhhh nah nah nahhhhhhhh
*guitar* Dahhh nah nah nahhhhhhhh!
Dahhhhhh naaaah naaaah naaaaaaaaahhhh!
Dahnananananananana nah nah naaaaaaaahhhhh!
Dahnananananananana nah nah naaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!
Boww (dooby de dooby doo) booww wow wooowwww
NAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! *drum fill*
NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! *drum fill*
Matthew: I never really understood why there was a wolf howl on a show about a vampire slayer.
Colin: That had better be in verbatim, it took me a long time to figure out how to type.
All of which is to say, Matt, is that I dug this issue because it FELT BUFFY. More than the book had in a good while.
Matthew: And if my memory is correct, you weren’t a big fan of the last season, correct?
Colin: That’s correct. I was enticed by the lure of the “back to basics” promise at the end of Season 8’s run, and while I totally enjoyed the Buffy is pregnant/Buffy is a robot arc, on the whole I just found it a bit lacking. And that’s despite the presence of a Slayer gone bad, which is normally always good for a yarn.
Matthew: Well I am right there with you on that, Mr. Colin. I quite liked Season 8, for all its ups and downs, but Season 9 did not work for me, certainly not as well as Angel and Faith. And now the A&F team are in on Buffy and, you’re right, it feels much more like Buffy than the last volume did. Hurrah!
But here’s the thing: I’m not sure I’m sold. I like that the gang is more or less back together, but something felt… not quite right. Did anything feel off to you, or is something wrong with me?
Colin: Something’s wrong with you, buddy.
Matthew: Well, look at “Serenity” #1, which we both came to rather enthusiastically. That felt like a natural follow-up to the film and a continuation of the stuff that had been laid down before. But look at “Buffy” Season 10, I couldn’t help but notice how different its all become. I mean, the world has literally been transformed to the extent that the landscape of the series does not even remotely resemble what Buffy used to have, you know? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as a show, was a supernatural story that still felt grounded in a discernible reality inhabited by this young girl and her friends. But now, everything is so different that, yeah, it has the same quirks and wit and pace of classic Buffy, and yet this book is almost nothing like what Buffy used to be anymore.Continued below
I know Season 9 didn’t really leave the series in any kind of easily accessible place, but it certainly struck me that this is the New Normal of “Buffy.” I’m not sure how I feel about that after this issue. I see the pros and the cons, I guess.
Was there anything in here that didn’t quite sit right with you?
Colin: I’m honestly struggling to a) come up with a complaint and b) be objective. I don’t know if it’s because I was so disenchanted by Season 9 – and a good chunk of Season 8 even – that this issue in comparison seemed like a breath of fresh air. It did a phenomenal job of not only establishing the status quo of the new world Buffy faces, but checking in with every Scooby and auxiliary Scooby that’s been picked up over the years. In fact I think the only Buffyverse character missing was Angel. And he’s got his own book, so there.
Matthew: Well, why don’t you tell us what you liked about the book? Taking the previous seasons out of the equation entirely, what was good about “Buffy” Season 10 #1 to you?
Colin: Well, I don’t think you can get to the tenth season of something and discount the other nine, it’s all context. Yes, I admit I probably like this issue more simply for not being part of Season 9, but it was genuinely a very fun read. Fast paced and throwing us head-first into the New World created by Buffy and the gang bringing back magic, Christos Gage did a wonderful job making what could have been a very perfunctory issue of people reintroducing themselves for the benefit of new and lapsed readers engaging with some sparkling dialogue and genuine Buffy-esque laughs. Laughs, which I hate to mention because I feel like I’m banging the same drum here, which were sorely lacking over the last couple of years. You want to take a stab at the unquantifiable missing thing you’re hinting at?
Matthew: That missing thing I was talking about was just any sense of normalcy, I guess. Maybe I was wrong to expect that this would start with the gang at a coffee shop or a library or something, as the comics have very much taken Buffy to more and more distant places since the canonical run began. (Season 9 had some “realism” to it, I’ll relent.) For better or for worse, Season 10 has thrown us directly into the thick of it, not quite in media res but closer to a place of supernatural fiction than that line Buffy the show always straddled between The Horror World and Real People Drama. I am curious to see how, if at all, the book will offer as compelling a character drama as it does a fast/fun vampire killing romp.
But enough about this. Lets talk about what really matters: THE ART! How did you find Rebekah Isaacs’ transition to this title — favorable, unfavorable?
Colin: Super-duper favourable, and again a real shot in the arm for the title. Giving Georges Jeanty Serenity has really seen him up his game, and shifting Rebekah Isaacs and Dan Jackson over to Buffy from Angel and Faith is a similarly inspired move. I mean, I’d have been loath to break up the Gage/Isaacs combo after their excellent shift on that title.
I’m particularly enthralled by just the slightest hint of weariness that Isaacs injects into Buffy’s expressions following the Slayer’s decade (in-continuity time) of hardships. I don’t know if that’s a conscious choice or not, I’d like to think it is. And the highlight of the issue, the Giles/Buffy reunion? It’s absolutely pitch-perfect and that’s all down to Isaac’s staging and pacing of their run towards each other. Beautiful stuff.
Matthew: I can’t disagree with any of this. While I am not entirely sold on the first issue from a written perspective, there is absolutely nothing I don’t love — nay, adore about Isaacs artwork. She’s easily the perfect successor to the book from Georges Jeanty, offering an angle of photo-realism to the characters while keeping the book decidedly in her recognizable and entirely visceral style. Isaacs absolutely owns the book in this first issue, and it’s all the better for it.Continued below
It’s tough not to really fall for the art of the book, though. I’m not sure how to say this in a way that doesn’t sound like a backhanded compliment (because I really don’t intend it to be), but Isaacs has a great take on a licensed book that we just sometimes aren’t afforded. Licensed books are a tricky thing, and honestly, sometimes they’re phoned in. But then you have an artist like Isaacs, who has developed her talent over creator-owned and for-hire superhero titles, and the balance struck there fits really well for the world of Buffy.
So I was super excited to see her draw the entire cast, and yes, the Buff/Giles reunion in particular. She is definitely a great fit for the book.
And, come to think of it, but her collaboration with Gage in “Angel and Faith” is perhaps what set me up to believe we might get more interpersonal reaction rather than straight up slayer-on-vampire dust ups, so there’s that.
Colin: I think you’re being fairly harsh on the writing. There was always going to be a degree of set-up in the first issue, but I feel like that there’s enough plot wrinkles to set up where we’re going – new vampire powers, uneasy vampire alliances to get rid of the zompires… I’d imagine Faith will have to get back to her own book at some point.
Oh, and ghost Anya.
Matthew: Oh, Ghost Anya. That was a bit heartbreaking, I’ll admit. Not that I’d forgotten about her, but I had pretty much accepted the fact that we’d never see her again, right? There are certain characters that are dead and gone and just not coming back, and I had always felt like Anya would be one of them. I had worried that getting her back would feel a bit forced, but I thought it was very interesting how Gage and Isaacs brought her back. It didn’t feel too shoe-horned in, you know? Based on the traumatic events of the last season finale, Anya coming back to talk to Xander just kind of fits in naturally.
Colin: Given that we’re in a world where everyone that dies can be brought back in some form or other (EXCEPT TARA) I’m surprised that it’s taken this long to get her back. But yes, this was a poignant moment. You could even say it was excellent writing, but I digress. Poor Xander.
Hey, you know what I noticed though?
Matthew: What did you notice though?
Colin: Buffy got straight up bitten by one of these new vampire bat creatures. All pop culture logic dictates that she must now turn into a bat creature within three issues.
Matthew: But there are new rules! And all Buffy logic dictates that Buffy is a vampire slayer not a bat creature, lest she would have to stake herself!
Colin: New rule: anything Matt says is wrong!
Matthew: Well, shoot.
So let’s wrap. What are your final thoughts on the premiere of the new season? Give us a summary and how you would grade the issue, Colin!
Colin: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 is a refreshing, energetic issue sure to win over both long-term readers and those who have drifted away for one reason or another. Based on their tenure on Angel and Faith alone, with Gage and Isaacs at the helm the book seemed to be in the best possible hands, and for me, this issue backs that up all the way. A SOLID 8/10 FROM ME.
Matthew: I, on the other hand, am a bit more reserved. This is the first time that “Buffy” has not been helmed by someone who had involvement with the show, and the distinct connection only to the follow-up comics is very apparent here. Which is not to say that it is bad, because it certainly isn’t; from an artistic point of view alone, it’s quite magnificent, and Rebekah Isaacs absolutely nails it. However, I will have to wait and see more of how this first arc pans out to see if this is truly the Buffy that I know and love. A 7.0 from yours truly.Continued below
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Buy