I’m basically a lifelong Buffy fan-fond memories of sneakily staying up after bedtime to watch the first season with my sister (despite only being seven years old) abound. Although there was a time towards the end of the show where I had to record it on VHS because its conflicted with my scout meetings (yes I was a such a cool child ,I know). I stuck with the show through the ‘Buffy has a sister?’ years and even the rather clunky final season. This included following the character into her foray into comic books, as although Season Eight went a bit too over the top and Season Nine was a little unambitious in response, they continued (canonically!) the adventures of these characters I had come to love.
Buffy Season Ten #1
This brings us to the newly released Season Ten-seeing the characters reunited after the events of the previous season and back to basics-or so it seems. Things are far from simple however; while the gang was able to bring magic back to the world last season its not quite the same as the book slowly reveals. While Season Nine was a bit of a mess, companion series Angel & Faith faired far better-from its tighter focus to the amazing art work. So it’s no surprise that creative team Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs have been brought over to reignite this main book.
We start with Buffy doing what she does best: slaying vampires. Well, to be more specific wiping out the last of the “Zompires”-mindless creatures that were created last season. Some vampires join in to help Buffy and co to take down the Zompires, as they see them as an abomination, leading to a shaky alliance. Meanwhile Xander and Dawn are still having relationship issues (yup for those not in the know you read that right) and Willow is struggling to get a hang on how magic works in this brave new world.
The theme of this season seems to have been establishing that this is still the same world, but with new rules. Spike is back but he no longer seems to be pining for our favourite Slayer. Xander is still the pun-maker, but a new companion of his suggests he may not be all there. And then there’s the new status quo for vampires, which I won’t spoil but man does it make things harder for the Scooby Gang. Then there’s the appearance of Faith and Giles. Whilst it’s not really surprising that Gage has brought over two characters he wrote so well in Angel & Faith, the reunion between Buffy and Giles still manages to be be one of the sweetest moments of the whole book. While I can’t see Faith sticking around for that long, particularly with the renewal of Angel & Faith with a new creative team, I certainly hope Giles returns as a fully-fledged member soon.
Rebekah Isaacs is incredible throughout the issue, no characters look off-model and even in the smallest illustrations the gang are instantly recognisable. She is able to make the magic look fantastical whilst also giving it an uncontrollable and dangerous edge, matching with how it works in this new world. Action sequences have a fun and animated energy, and Isaacs is able to show that the gang are overwhelmed throughout with simple and efficient work.
This issue gives me hope for a great season to come, I have faith (hah) that Gage and Isaacs can duplicate their success with Angel & Faith on this new era for Buffy and look forward to seeing where they take things next month.
Angel & Faith #1
Angel & Faith has also returned with a new art team and direction, but unfortunately the first issue doesn’t do much to establish itself. After the events of last season Faith decided she wanted to be away from Angel for a while, helping Giles track down Buffy so that he can help her understand the new status quo. Meanwhile Angel decided to stay in London to take care of the newly formed Magic Town-an area affected by a device which was supposed to restore magic that is filled with magical creatures who once used to be humans.
Angel’s storyline introduces a new threat: a group of pixies who are using humans for an as-yet unrevealed purpose. When Angel saves the lives of one of their human slaves he receives a warning from their leader to stay away, which for Angel is obviously an invitation to get involved. After some advice from Giles’ aunts (who I hope will continue to be supporting players), he finds himself face to face with an old ally believed to be dead.
Meanwhile, Faith shows up to save the Buffster during the vampire attack, as seen in Buffy #1. Her whole storyline is essentially a rehash of the events as shown in that book, except that we get to see a little bit of jealousy as Buffy and Giles reunite and she realises that she’s once again alone. There’s also one little scene set after the battle to come at the end of Buffy #1 teasing events yet to come for her.
Will Conrad is the new artist for the book and while his likenesses aren’t bad he isn’t a good replacement for Rebekah Isaacs. who delivered knock out art month after month. Angel fares far better out of the duo, being recognisable in most panels although there a few times when he just looks like a generic superhero. He hasn’t got a hand on Faith yet however, seeming to make up for this by rarely showing her face. One panel, where she worries Giles is in danger looks just like Eliza Dushku but the rest of the time she more resembles Dawn or Kennedy than Faith, making things a bit confusing. There are also some clear evidences of Conrad tracing facial expressions and body movements from other panels, even on the same page, which make the book feel lazy.
The problem is that this whole issue is either set-up or recap with very little to draw the reader in. Judging from future covers Faith will hang out with Buffy and co. for a little while at least, hopefully future issues of this comic will able to do more outside the shadow of the parent book. Angel’s storyline also needs a serious kick next issue to keep me interested. This isn’t a very good start for the new creative team, with the book being so dull that I’m already considering dropping it if there isn’t a serious improvement.