Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #11-13
I can’t tell how much of my enjoyment of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 comes from great comics with snappy dialogue and interesting character relationships, and how much of it is nostalgia for the show, since the comic does such an excellent job of capturing the high points.
It’s particularly tricky with this storyline, since it revisits one of the flash points from the show: Buffy getting involved with Spike. These are older, more mature characters, though, with more experience under their belts, so we know things won’t work out the same way as before. Which is a good thing: I trust writer Christos Gage (working again on these issues with Nicholas Brendon) to handle this kind of troublesome, potent interaction more than the show writers at the time. And I like the idea of getting a second chance to make a better decision.
There’s a lot more happening than just those two hooking up again, though. Xander and Dawn are trying to figure out what they are to each other now that her feelings have been “reset”. Giles is coping with being a pre-teen when he’s got the mind of a man. Willow’s struggling to figure out her relationship now that she’s responsible for being a guardian of all earth’s rules for magic.
(That plot, with the gang having possession of a magic book where anything written comes true, adds a nice under-layer of responsibility and consequences to their lighter, everyday, “trying to figure out this adult thing” interactions. And that aspect of the comic is welcome — although the characters can be immortal, since comic people don’t age (unlike actors), it’s better seeing them move past adolescence and tackle questions of where to live and how to make a living.)
In a lovely surprise, Andrew figures out who he really he is and satisfies his dreams… in two ways. Every page of this story is a new revelation to me. The writers never do what I expect, but all of it feels right. And highly entertaining.
I’m also very pleased to see scenes where Willow, Buffy, and Dawn rely on each other to figure things out. Not everyone has girlfriends that good, ones they can trust and share everything with, and it’s a joy to see three different women shown in such light. Even when they tell each other harsh truths.
I don’t recall seeing Megan Levens’s work before, but I’m impressed. (All covers here are by Steve Morris.) It’s not as smooth as some of the other contributors, a bit more cartoony, but that suits a story that needs lots of emotion visible.
Issue #12 has an impressive rundown of Buffy’s romantic history from a more mature perspective. The message I take away is that, even if someone’s speaking truth, you have to make sure the timing is right. That’s reinforced later, as Xander goes overboard in supporting Andrew and scares him away. I must stop talking here about what happens, although part of me just wants to say “And when they did! And that scene, I loved that!”
Particularly the opening of issue #13, where Buffy says what we’re all thinking about her history of next mornings. Meanwhile, Spike is having dreams of murdering people, only to have them really turn up dead, and Xander is sharing his knowledge of psychiatric treatment with everyone.
Buffy makes a lovely argument for the virtue of trying to change out of destructive habits by trying something different. These issues are oddly introspective and full of psychological insight. I don’t think it’s that different from what the show used to do, though, with all their speeches. Mostly, it’s a plea for honesty, of being true to yourself as a path to happiness. (The publisher provided digital review copies.)