- Script by Christos Gage
- Art by Megan Levens
- Colours by Dan Jackson
- Letters by Richard Starkings
- Cover by Steve Morris
Called in for a supernatural-crimes case, Buffy and Spike discover an incubus demon is targeting women in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Xander and Giles work on an exorcism that stirs up some questions about Ghost Anya.
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My woes with he ongoing comic ‘seasons’ of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ are very well documented at this point. Each season I hesitate about whether I will subscribe or not then I pickup the first couple of issues and feel a renewed love of the franchise and decide that yes this is going to be the season I love from start-to-finish and I once again subscribe and find myself meandering through the journey of the characters as they lurch from story to story.
Season 10 is holding my attention much better than season 8 and a little more than season 9 so that’s the good news. The bad news is that once again it feels as though the season is starting to wander off the beaten track and on to uncharted territory… not the good kind. With Giles now a teenager ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ has had a chance to look at its characters from a new angle. For years the main cast has looked up to Giles and then spent a year grieving his death. Now he has to look up to them and they need to prove to him that they can survive without his parenting. For comedy purposes there’s also the endless storyline potential for an out of control hormonal Giles, we all know how that turned out the first time!
Events in the companion series ‘Angel & Faith’ should also have had a huge impact on the franchise which, at present, it does not.
Last month Giles got a brief reprieve and was allowed to be a grown up for a day. It was a nice character piece and added weight to the frustration that his situation has caused him but overall the issue broke the momentum which season 10 has built up over the past (almost) two years and it’s that stop-start nature which eventually puts ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ to the bottom of my to-read pile.
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ #20 picks up a new story, dubbed ‘Triggers’, which focusses less on the villain-of-the-month and more on the relationship dynamic between Buffy and Spike. The two have been on a merry dance now since season six of the TV series so essentially this is now four whole years that the story has dominated and it is getting a little old. Once again deciding that now is the time to be together Buffy and Spike take on the case of an Incubus and his victim together.
Unfortunately for us readers it’s a full on metaphor for their relationship and it brings back echoes of their sordid past, in particular the shower scene from season six episode ‘Seeing Red’. The metaphorical ‘Triggers’ that the title refers to are those which set Buffy on a collision course with her emotions and separate her from those she loves.
By the issue’s climax the two have once again ironed out their issues and with very little dialogue on the page are able to express their feelings for each other without any nudity for once. It’s not that I don’t like either character, I can take-it-or-leave-it with Spike but Buffy I have always been a fan of even during his preachy phase in season seven of the TV show. It’s just that together they make for an incredibly dull story that we’ve seen too many times before.
Luckily for us there are other things going on in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ #45! The highlight of this issue is by far poor old Xander. He’s been a little sidelined this season particularly after his breakup with Dawn and his betrayal in season nine, although all is forgiven the consequences have been far reaching and he now spends much of his time talking to Ghost-Anya.
This issue brings us confirmation that she is a real ghost and not a figment of his imagination and finally the story begins to develop from her occasional guest starring moments to something with a little more weight behind it. I didn’t believe the Ghost-Anya story was more than a way to bring her back in to the story but now I understand that all along it has been a slow burn towards something which will clearly take centre stage in the back half of the season.
Season ten has yet to develop an overall arc but there are loose plot threads which may well tie themselves together is Gage has a whole season mapped out that is true to the original Whedon style.
It’s hard to fault the quality of the dialogue throughout this run and even in this somewhat dull issues as the characters continue to perfectly reflect their TV counterparts with a few added years of life experience. It’s nice that after four years in comics the writers haven’t felt the need to breakup the core group in order to breathe new life to the franchise.
The artwork, as always, is outstanding. There’s guest artwork in this issue by Megan Levens but it neither interrupts to visual narrative of the series nor ruins it. If Isaacs and Gage could run both ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel & Faith’ then both would vie for the best Whedon related continuation series. The artwork continues to breathe life in to the idea that ‘Buffy’ would have worked as a cartoon series but also proving that a comic which deals with as much serious content as this doesn’t need to languish under heavy handed artwork.
Another good read albeit one that wishes it was a great read.