Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #6
Writer Christos Gage is really killing it on this series, with creative stories that are true to the characters but reveal new facets of their personalities, not an easy trick to do with something beloved and long-running. He’s back writing solo after being joined by Nicholas Brendon for a Dracula arc. Artists for this story, “I Wish”, are Karl Moline (Fray) and Cliff Richards, inked by Andy Owens.
Our ever-growing gang of friends start off the issue by facing a huge challenge for many young adults: affordable housing. Dawn and Xander have broken up, so at least one of them needs a new place. Buffy doesn’t want to live with her roommates any more. Giles has financial issues, being reincarnated as himself as a preteen. It’s all complicated by them being in California, where prices are sky-high. This is very easy to relate to, particularly at that age, when you’re still trying to figure out the adulthood thing. The best parts of Buffy, in my opinion, took these kinds of struggles and made them mean so much more because monsters got involved, which also allowed for symbolic theming. Gage is ably carrying on that tradition.
Their problems might be settled with a deal with the owner of a haunted house — they clean the place out and they can live there. Only the house’s inhabitant isn’t a ghost, it’s a demon with a particularly nasty sting in its tail. The promo copy describes it as fighting back “with blissful childhood fantasies”. Now, the idea of trapping a hero by giving them exactly what they want isn’t a unique one, particularly in comics. The best-known example is Superman’s Black Mercy in “For the Man Who Has Everything” by Alan Moore, published 30 years ago in Superman Annual #11. Yet that plot is such a perfect choice for these characters — and perhaps the fans, since I can easily see the dismissive snarking about how they were “better when they were in high school.” Well, let’s see, shall we?
Gage clearly knows and loves the show, and I love the way he makes references to past events in such a way that those with more spotty memories can easily get the mention and appreciate the humor. See, for example, Buffy’s response to Andrew’s offer of guest room space. Unfortunately, when it comes to Willow’s clothes, the artist appears to be living in the past to less effective result: a belly-baring shirt with a velvet choker? How 1990s of you.
But back to the story. It’s hilarious who falls for it (and how) and who doesn’t, and along the way, we get plenty of great wisecracks and some thought-provoking moments. Overall, I like spending time with these characters once again, and after reading an issue, I want to read more or watch the show again, the best compliment (I think) for a multi-platform franchise.